Vancouver’s roadmap to dramatically reduce climate emissions, guide next steps

VANCOUVER City Council on Tuesday night approved the five-year Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP), which contains 19 actions and sets Vancouver on an ambitious path to achieve our target to reduce Vancouver’s carbon pollution by 50 per cent by 2030.

“Vancouver has long been considered a global sustainability leader and approval of the Climate Emergency Action Plan will set a new benchmark for cities across Canada and around the world. The CEAP builds on a long history of forward-looking climate action from staff across all City departments. This is testament to the dedication, collaboration and innovation across the City,” said Sadhu Johnston, City Manager. “Meeting our climate targets is necessary and will take all of us; staff, residents and businesses. Now we have a roadmap to help us get there.”  

“The Climate Emergency Action Plan is an early action in Vancouver Plan, and its approval signals a clear commitment to align Vancouver with climate science by scaling-up efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. The actions identified are ambitious and necessary. Through them, we will improve the air we breathe, make our neighbourhoods more vibrant, reduce energy waste and switch to renewable energy sources, use low carbon construction materials in our buildings, and boost the green economy, amongst other priorities,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability. “We are committed to working with residents and businesses on implementation to make sure we understand and address their needs.”

Of the 19 actions in the CEAP, four ‘game changer’ actions were identified to significantly move the dial on reducing carbon pollution from the city’s largest sources – buildings and transportation – which represent nearly all of the carbon pollution produced in Vancouver. Currently, 54 per cent of Vancouver’s carbon pollution comes from burning natural gas used to heat space and water in buildings, and 39 per cent of the emissions come from burning gasoline and diesel in vehicles.

The ‘game changer’ actions will not work alone and are designed, together with the other actions, to cut Vancouver’s carbon pollution in half over the next decade.

The game changer actions are:

* Through robust consultation, create a model to implement transport pricing in the Metro Core by 2025 to reduce congestion and reallocate road space to more sustainable modes and increase walking, rolling, cycling and transit use

* Expanding residential on-street parking programs citywide, with a carbon surcharge on new, higher priced, gas and diesel vehicles

* Setting carbon pollution limits for existing buildings to transition older buildings off fossil fuels by improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy

* Setting requirements for low carbon construction materials and practices in new buildings to reduce the embodied carbon from building construction.

“With transportation as the second-biggest source of carbon pollution, we have to prioritize sustainable ways of getting around,” said Lon LaClaire, General Manager of Engineering Services. “The actions outlined in the Climate Emergency Action Plan will support people in switching to walking, biking and transit trips. Introducing a user-pay model for roads promotes fairness and will allow us to invest those funds in more sustainable travel options. This approach is working to move more people and reduce congestion in major cities around the world and, over the next few years, we will work with our residents and stakeholders to find the right fit to deliver similar benefits for Vancouver.”

Priorities in developing the CEAP included mitigating the impacts of climate change, advancing public health, making Vancouver more resilient to future disruptions, and integrating equity. Three equity reviews were completed during the process of designing these actions, and a Climate and Equity Working Group reviewed and provided input that helped refine the actions. Equity will remain central, as further research, analysis and engagement is conducted before the game changer actions are implemented.

A financial framework was approved by Council as part of this plan, outlining the City’s actions and investments over the next five years (to 2025) that will be required to meet our 2030 climate goal. Third party modelling verified that implementing the Climate Emergency Action in combination with the Provincial government’s climate plan (CleanBC) will put the City on track to meet its 2030 targets. The modelling also forecast a net savings of $1 billion for residents and businesses as a result of the changes in technology and behavior made over the next decade ($1.3 billion in investments and $2.3 billions in savings).

Robust engagement and analysis is planned to inform the details of the actions in order to make them successful for Vancouver residents and businesses. Detailed plans will be brought to Council before implementation.

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