The Canadian city of Toronto is paying citizens for going green. What’s been named the ‘Live Green Toronto program’, launched recently, has $20 million available over the next five years for citizen-driven carbon savings projects. The funding, in the form of subsidies, will go to projects that will help the city make good on its target of reducing its carbon footprint by 6% by 2012.
The city’s mayor, David Miller, indicated that Toronto needs all the help it can get to achieve its ambitious plans. The mayor was quoted in the Toronto Star commenting that “the plan’s success depends on residents creating change.” The Toronto Environmental Office is closely involved with the project. It is this official agency which has negotiated all the criteria for the grants that citizens can obtain for projects involving environmentally safe ideas. Funding will especially be directed to people looking to invest in equipment and materials.
The Live Green Toronto program is structured in a rather unique way. It works with what are termed “activators,” environmentalists working for non-governmental agencies. Activators meet people with project ideas and collaborate with them through the first stages. If a project idea survives the idea development stage, citizens will have been granted $1,000 to $25,000. They then can apply for full grants of between $25,000 to $250,000 for their projects to become reality. The city’s long term targets are a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The Toronto Star reports on a number of brilliant examples of projects that the City of Toronto supports; a solar heated water system and an inventory initiative of neighborhood trees. The latter project has a goal to plant more similar trees on private property and public parks.
Toronto’s city officials say they are open to other cities around the world wishing to copy the Live Green Toronto program. If you are interested in finding out which sub-federal governments are involved in what types of environmental programs, check out the information on Oil Depletion Protocol, which links to the the Post Carbon Cities site, listing links to laws passed by a municipal and regional agencies aiming to reduce the threat of peak oil.
A recent addition is the State of Connecticut, which in June passed a law creating an energy scarcity and sustainability task force. Connecticut will assess all its official agencies’ petroleum use and has established a grant program for municipalities to plan for energy scarcity and cost increases. “Local government officials need to initiate conversations about how to respond to declining oil supplies”, commented Daniel Lerch, a program manager with the Post Carbon Institute in California recently told RedOrbit.
The Post Carbon Cities website is especially interesting because it provides an insight into various approaches taken by the authorities such as internal vulnerability studies, internal policy assessments, community vulnerability task forces, and their resolutions and ordinances.