T.O. among cities to go green under Clinton plan
Published Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:46PM EDT
Toronto is among 16 cities that will be cutting carbon emissions through a project spearheaded and funded by former U.S. president Bill Clinton's foundation.
The green makeover plan, unveiled by Clinton in New York on Wednesday afternoon, calls for the renovation and retrofitting of city-owned buildings with the latest energy-saving technology.
"If all buildings were as efficient as they could be, we'd be saving an enormous amount of energy and significantly reducing carbon emissions. Also, we'd be saving a ton of money," said Clinton.
Changes include replacing heating, cooling and lighting systems with energy-efficient networks, and the project also calls for roofs to be replaced with white or reflective material to deflect the sun's heat.
Clinton's foundation says the planned changes could cut energy use by 20 to 50 per cent. The reduction could mean a significant decrease in heat-trapping carbon emissions, as well as cost savings on utility bills.
Toronto Mayor David Miler, who is attending the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, says the city will receive tens of millions of dollars to implement the changes.
"It'll make an enormous difference," Miller told CTV's Tim Weber over the noon hour.
"The big difference in Toronto comes from the fact that our biggest single contributor of the greenhouse gases is heating and cooling our old buildings. It's about 60 per cent of Toronto's contribution."
Some private buildings in the city will also undergo the makeover, which will help rejuvenate neighbourhoods, Miller said.
"It will improve people's lives, it will bring significant employment and it will reduce energy consumption, and therefore positively affect climate change," he said.
Major global banking institutions have committed US$1 billion to finance the upgrades in participating cities, which include New York, Chicago, Houston, London, Berlin, Mexico City and Tokyo, according to the Associated Press.
Buildings contribute largely to emissions. In New York, for example, the consumption of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam needed to operate buildings generates 79 per cent of the city's total carbon count.
Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative, said cities and private building owners want to renovate with more energy efficiency, but often cannot pay for the startup costs.
"By bringing together cities and partnering with the private sector, President Clinton and the Clinton foundation are providing the tools to help cities achieve our goals," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The other cities are Rome; Karachi, Pakistan; Mumbai; India; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; Melbourne, Australia; Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The foundation expects the partnership to eventually expand to more cities and companies.
The makeover agreement comes during the second meeting of the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit. During the first meeting on Tuesday, mayors and local leaders said it was up to them to take action on climate change because federal governments are failing in that respect.
Cities cover less than one per cent of the Earth's surface but are responsible for generating 80 per cent of greenhouse gases, officials say.
With files from The Associated Press