Vancouver aims for 6 big moves by 2030 to decarbonize, a five-fold increase on the current pace

Vancouver Sun, April 2019

Vancouver city staff are recommending city council respond to the world’s “climate emergency” by dramatically stepping up its green initiatives to ensure the city becomes carbon neutral before 2050.

The city’s general managers of planning and engineering are recommending the city adopt six “big moves” by 2030 that would include:

  • Aim to have 90 per cent of its citizens live within an easy walk of their “daily needs.”
  • Accelerate its goal of having two-third of trips in the city by walking, biking or transit by 2030 (instead of 2040).
  • Have 50 per cent of all kilometres driven on city roads by zero emissions vehicles.
  • Aim by 2025 to have all new and replacement heating and hot water systems in buildings produce zero emissions.
  • By 2030 reduce the carbon content of new buildings and construction projects by 40 per cent (compared to 2018).
  • By 2030 restore enough forest and coastal ecosystems in the city to remove one million tonnes of carbon pollution every year by 2060.

The goal is for the city to “do its part” to keep warming to the international climate community’s goal of 1.5 degrees, said Matt Horne, the city’s climate policy manager. The overall goal is to cut in half carbon pollution by 2030.

Horne said that would work out to 90,000 tonnes a year in a reduction of carbon, compared to the 19,000 tonnes a year the city has reduced between 2007 and 2017.  “That’s a five-fold increase,” he said.

The majority of the carbon emissions would need to be cut from space and water heating, which Horne said would make up half of the pollution to be cut.

He said compliance would be encouraged voluntarily and through financial or other incentives before eventually being “backstopped by regulations.”

“It’s not something Vancouver (city hall) can do on its own,” he said. “We know there are cost and equity challenges associated with these moves.”

But there are health benefits to be gained from better air quality, for instance, and economic opportunities by attracting green tech companies, among others.

The report also lists 53 “accelerated actions” that can be achieved before 2050, some of which are:

  • Encouraging residents to choose walking, biking and transit by adding 500 electric bikes and charging stations to the public bike share.
  • Allowing car share vehicles to park free at meters.
  • And increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations, including in rental buildings.
  • This summer the city will pilot a project that would add “clean air rooms” with filtered air to five cooling centres. This would provide daytime respite from particulate matter affecting those with breathing difficulties.

Staff are also recommending the city find ways to help the food industry cut down on wasted food, reduce its emissions by switching cookers to renewable from fossil natural gas or induction stoves and patio heaters to electric from gas.

The city is also aiming to phase out fossil fuels by 2023 by switching its non-emergency fleet sedans to zero emission vehicles and its mowers and leaf blowers to electric or zero emissions technologies.

On Jan. 16 council recognized climate change as an emergency and asked staff to review its targets in light of an international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

It also directed staff to establish a carbon budget and a climate and equity working group.  The report will be considered by city council on Wednesday.


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