The city of TO is stepping up its efforts to combat climate change. Mayor John Tory announced on September 20 that Toronto is declaring a climate emergency, along with over 800 local governments around the world. According to CBC, Tory's new plan will need to be adopted by the city council during their upcoming meeting on October 2.

"Climate change and global warming pose a major risk to our city's residents and businesses," Tory stated in a news release.

"This emergency declaration serves to join cities across the world in tackling climate change, frame the impact of climate change on our residents and businesses, and enhance Toronto's commitment to a net zero carbon future," he added.

It’s worth noting that an emergency declaration is a mostly symbolic gesture and includes no new pledges for additional programs or initiatives. However, TransformTO, Toronto’s leading climate change strategy, is calling for an 80 percent reduction in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The announcement lands on the same day that thousands of students around the world are marching against climate change. The movement is a part of the school strike for the climate movement, inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

While the initiative is no doubt a positive one, many were quick to criticize Tory for his statement. 

Keith Stewart, Senior Energy Strategist at Greenpeace Canada had this to say in response to Tory's announcement: "Words are lovely but only truly matter when backed by deeds. Acting like this is an emergency means scaling up and accelerating plans to get off fossil fuels, building more resilient communities for all, and holding those responsible for delaying the action necessary to solve this crisis accountable for their fair share of the costs."

Greenpeace is one of the 47 organizations who have signed onto an open call to council to declare a climate emergency and commit to accelerated climate action.

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