City of Vancouver commits to a carbon reduction strategy aligned with the climate emergency

VANCOUVER has committed to a five-fold increase in its efforts to tackle climate change and align local efforts with international recommendations.

Regionally, nationally, and globally, cities are declaring climate emergencies in response to growing concern about the serious threat of climate change.

To address this global crisis Vancouver has identified six ‘big moves’ to dramatically reduce carbon pollution from buildings and transportation (the city’s largest sources), as well as, sequester carbon through conservation efforts. A set of 53 quick-start actions complement the big moves and allow implementation to begin right away by building on Vancouver’s previous actions.

“Last night Council approved a roadmap that lays out ambitious local solutions to scale-up climate action and limit warming to 1.5°C to avoid devastating climate breakdown, in line with recommendations made in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and Paris Agreement,” said Sadhu Johnston, City Manager. “We know this will require a coordinated effort and are committed to working with the community, partners and other levels of government on this bold and necessary plan.”

Vancouver has decreased emissions from buildings, transportation and solid waste by 19,000 tonnes per year over the past decade. The recommendations approved last night will mean a five-fold increase of emission reductions to an average of 92,000 tonnes per year to achieve the City’s 2030 target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

“This climate emergency response includes bold short and long-term actions that will benefit residents and improve neighbourhoods now and in the future,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability. “They have the potential to build community, grow our economy, improve air quality and make our city more resilient. It will also coordinate closely with our citywide planning program that’s just getting under way.”

“Taking action on climate change is a global issue that we all need to participate in,” said Jerry Dobrovolny, General Manager of Engineering Services. “It is already underway in how we are planning our transportation networks and accelerating the actions outlined in the Transportation 2040 plan to further reduce carbon pollution while ensuring our region stays safe, connected and efficient.”

The six big moves aim to achieve the 1.5°C objective:

  • Walkable complete communities – 90% of people live within an easy walk/roll of their daily needs by 2030;
  • Safe and convenient active transportation and transit –two thirds of trips in Vancouver will be by active transportation and transit by 2030;
  • Pollution free cars, trucks and buses – 50 per cent of the kilometres driven on Vancouver’s roads will be by zero emissions vehicles by 2030;
  • Zero emission space and water heating – all new and replacement heating and hot water systems will be zero emissions by 2025;
  • Lower carbon construction – the embodied emissions from new buildings and construction projects will be reduced by 40% compared to a 2018 baseline by 2030; and
  • Restored forests and coast – staff to develop “negative emission” targets that can be achieved by restoring forest and coastal ecosystems by fall 2020.

An additional 53 actions focus on accelerating the City’s previous climate actions to transition to cleaner sources of energy, increase active and clean transportation options for residents, green City operations, and increase community engagement. These are designed to allow work to begin immediately and will fit together with the six big moves as the details, analysis, consultation and budgets are developed.

As part of the climate emergency response, Council approved the formation of an Equity Working Group to ensure that equity has a central place in the City’s climate emergency and sustainability work moving forward.

The Climate Emergency Response staff report and presentation are both available online.