Meet the net zero neighbours: This tiny Toronto group has big climate-change ambitions

The Star ran a first-person feature on our 'sister' group across town: the Net Zero Committee of the Harbord Village Neighbourhood Association.

It shot up almost without notice.

Suddenly it was there, intruding on my morning walk with the dog. ESSO. Red letters, in a blue oval, on a white sign. The Esso station, a gas station, arose without remark. Upon opening, it will join around 900 other gas stations in Toronto.

In a time spectacularly marked by climate impacts — fires and floods in BC and around the world, the melting Arctic, the spectre of millions of climate refugees — the opening of a new Esso station hardly garners a raised eyebrow. Certainly not a protest. I’m guilty. I didn’t meet the unveiling of the Esso sign with a protest placard because it didn’t occur to me, and I’ve studied and advocated for climate action for 25 years. There was an old gas station there before and so a new one going in is routine. Ordinary. The ordinary might do us in.

It isn’t that people don’t know or care about climate change. In a UN-sponsored poll released in January 2021, 3 in 4 Canadians agreed that climate change is an emergency. And yet we are far from even a serious start on our journey to a low carbon country. Canadian’s per capita emissions rank fifth highest in the world, and our national emissions have increased since signing the Paris Agreement in 2015 — an inglorious honour we alone hold in the G7. Clearly, there’s much work to do. But it’s not easy.

Our group began with six neighbours sitting around a dining room table, socializing and strategizing a plan to engage our neighbourhood on climate change — the NetZero committee for the Harbord Village Residents Association. Our tiny group has big ambitions, envisioning neighbours getting behind a push to transform their houses and transportation choices in line with Toronto’s goal to be a Net Zero city by 2050. We’ve had great discussions, done some interesting projects, and built a nice community, but, at times, the work is frustratingly slow.

Read the full article at the Toronto Star.

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