Crombie pushes for 100 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
Photos by Mansoor Tanweer/Daniel Calabretta

Crombie pushes for 100 percent reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

Like the greenhouse gas emissions that flow from the city’s transit system and buildings, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie’s “aspirational goal” of reducing the city’s net emissions by 100 percent by 2050 is sky high. 

Crombie broached the subject at Wednesday’s general committee meeting, after three city staff presented a draft climate change action plan (CCAP) to council. The mayor homed in on one of the report highlights — proposing a community and corporate (City of Mississauga) greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent by 2050, as compared to 1990 levels. 

“Why aren’t our goals 100 percent?” Crombie posed to the general committee. “Why are we only 80 percent, class?” Crombie brought this up in reference to Vancouver City Council’s climate emergency motion, aiming to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and setting timelines for action in line with the call by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 45 percent curtailment “in GHG emissions over 2010 levels by 2030.” 

Jodi Robillos, Mississauga’s director of parks, forestry and environment and one of the staff presenting the CCAP to council, noted that Vancouver is “probably in about year 20” of their Climate Change Action Plan.

“Some of those municipalities have been adjusting their targets, the 2050 target, to net-zero,” Robillos said in response to Crombie. “We know that there are not net-zero communities in Canada, at this point. We think that this (80 percent reduction) is a good target for 2050.” 


Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie


The city’s plan contains 20 actions, ranging from advancing community energy and low-carbon energy systems to supporting behaviour changes to advance climate action, under five action pathways, described as: buildings & clean energy; resilient & green infrastructure; accelerating discovery & innovation; low emissions mobility & transportation; and engagement & partnerships. Ultimately, there are two goals: “mitigation” and “adaptation.” More than $450 million in capital funding would be required over the next 10 years to implement the City’s CCAP. 

“I think we’ll take incremental steps,” Crombie told reporters after the meeting. “Certainly, there will be certain portions of the plan they’ll execute and that will be executable, and others that will not be cost-effective.” The mayor added that actions like modernizing the city’s fleet (i.e. transit fleet or light duty corporate fleet), whether to electric or hydrogen, would be “necessary.” 

Crombie said the city has not costed out what it would take to get to a net-zero reduction. She said the commissioner’s office didn’t think it was “achievable” or “realistic” at this time. “We know that technology is evolving and changing all the time, and it may be that within 10 or 20 years, it will be achievable. And then we’ll look at it,” she said. “I would like to have an aspirational goal of becoming net zero by 2050. And I’m hopeful that we’ll include that in the report, that they think it’s realistic to [go to] 80 percent. But I think, aspirationally, we should be trying to achieve 100 percent.” 

Crombie added that neither the building, planning nor transit staff think net zero is achievable at this time. “I have been briefed throughout the drafting of this report, and now it will be taken out to community consultations and it will be determined if people will support it, or if they want changes,” she said. “There certainly are segments of our population that are very passionate about this issue and others that are a little more cautious.” The mayor estimates that diesel vehicles would be the first to be taken out of service, adding that the city will “modernize the fleet” and purchase new electric vehicles. 

“There won’t be a vast or sudden change over a short period of time. As new vehicles are purchased, we will be purchasing the electric vehicles,” she said. 

Earlier this month, the general committee put forward for final council approval an item involving 11 new hybrid-electric buses being added to MiWay’s fleet.  

Robillos tends to agree that the eventual target should be Crombie’s desired net zero reduction. “We would all agree that net zero would be our long-term goal, but the plan also looks at things incrementally,” she said. “We may get there, and that’s certainly council’s right to ask us to change the targets when we come back with the final plans. We can test some of those things out with the public.” 



Robillos added that the CCAP will evoke mixed reactions, regardless of where the emissions targets are set. “The reality is, members of the public are going to look at the plan and say, ‘It doesn’t do enough.’ And other people are going to look at the plan and say, ‘It’s too ambitious. It does too much,’” she said. “So, our goal is really: how do we move the needle and how do we start making these decisions now that are going to affect our future?” 

To achieve Crombie’s “aspirational goal” of a net zero reduction, City of Mississauga climate change specialist Leya Barry said “some pretty radical changes are going to have to happen.” A full, 100 percent adoption of zero-emission vehicles, such as electric, would be one step, she said. Electric heat pumps and transitioning away from natural gas would be another way to move towards 100 percent emission reduction targets. Barry said the city would need to convert at least half of those natural gas–powered heat pumps to electricity. 

“Unfortunately, right now, [electric] costs more than it does to run natural gas. So, to get to ‘80 by 50’ [80 percent by 2050], we’re still looking at some pretty radical changes,” Barry said. 

Barry added that the only way to get to net zero is to introduce carbon offsets. “I still need to run lights and I don’t have solar panels. Well, you need to do something, maybe somewhere else, that can generate clean enough energy that it basically makes it a net zero energy,” Barry explained. “It balances out. So those can be local, those could be provincial. Carbon offsets are considered from a global scale.” 

But Barry said she doesn’t think such scenarios are likely now, at this point. “There are markets for these things, but basically, in the short, medium and long term, as far as we know right now, there doesn’t currently exist a scenario that we’re aware of where an entire community — not just corporate, but community — can get to a net-zero target without offsets.” 

The general committee unanimously passed a motion to support a public consultation, as recommended by the presenters: Robillos, Barry and Dianne Zimmerman, the city’s manager of environment, parks and forestry. 

Barry said it still needs a stamp of approval from council next week, but essentially that staff “did receive [an] endorsement to go out for public consultation.” 

Barry added that the final draft of the CCAP will be presented by the parks, forestry and environment department to the general committee in December. 

After that, everyone can take a deep breath.


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Twitter @dancalabrett 


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