Electric vehicle rebate among staff proposals to speed up Toronto’s target to become a carbon neutral city

City’s goal includes increasing the share of private cars to 5% from 1.3% in 10 years

Electric vehicle rebate among staff proposals to speed up Toronto’s target to become a carbon neutral city

Toronto is working on a series of measures to accelerate its efforts to be more environmentally friendly. If approved, they include a $300m-a-year tax break on electric vehicles and new pension plan benefits for low-income employees.

The proposals, put forward in the city’s climate action action plan, were unveiled on Friday by Mayor John Tory and chief administrative officer Joe Pennachetti.

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They come as the city tries to reach its target of turning itself from carbon neutral to completely carbon free by 2030, and will be discussed by Toronto city council in November.

The goal is to reduce the share of privately-owned cars in the city from 1.3% to 5% in the next 10 years.

“Incentives need to be given to make it easy for people to switch,” said Pennachetti. “If you’re gonna move a vehicle, you need the incentive to do so.”

As part of the initiative, pension fund OMERS has pledged to invest 10% of its net assets in publicly traded companies with carbon reduction targets. Under the scheme, OMERS will pick the companies that will have the most carbon reduction impact and invest up to $100m in them, in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals to ensure “climate neutrality” for the city.

To help meet the targets of the plan, Toronto is aiming to get 400,000 electric cars on the road by 2027 and make 60% of public transit trips covered by electric vehicles by 2035.

Reduce of car use around retail city centres will come from putting in infrastructure for shared and shared-like rides such as shared bike sharing.

But Pennachetti said there are obstacles to getting electric cars on the road. “Some cities have done it in the past, but not anywhere near the volume that we need to because of a lot of city bureaucracies. You need to get the heads of several departments in that department to see this as their No 1, which is incredibly complicated,” he said.

The plan also proposes expediting building permit changes for new or retrofitted low-energy buildings. Currently, the city has 45 municipal permit holders, but this number has doubled over the last two years.

The plan also makes climate action a priority for the city’s new $2.7bn subway system, with a target of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2040 and complete zero net emissions by 2045.

Long-term emissions reductions targets for buildings will be released next year.

The proposed pension change will be evaluated by a council committee next month, and if approved it will be taken to council in November. The proposal will need support from all city council members to pass.

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