In 2007, the Vancouver City Council proposed and adopted climate protection goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 33% from 2007 levels by 2020. Vancouver formed the Greenest City Action Team (GCAT), and developed the Greenest City Action Plan in 2009, to achieve zero waste, zero carbon, and healthy ecosystems for Vancouver, in order to make Vancouver into “the greenest city in the world”. The specific goals for the GCAT are:

  • by 2020, create 20,000 new green jobs and become an international center for green business
  • by 2020, reduce GHG emissions by 33% compared to 2007 levels, and become a leading city in fighting climate change
  • by 2020, eliminate the need for fossil fuel energy in Vancouver, and reduce the demand for energy (over 90% of the city’s energy already is renewable energy, mostly hydroelectricity)
  • by 2020, all new industrial/ municipal construction to be carbon-neutral, improve efficiency of existing buildings by 20%
  • by 2020, over 50% of commutes by walking, biking or public transport
  • by 2020, reduce waste heading to landfills or incinerator by 40%
  • by 2020, plant an additional 150,000 trees, and expand parks/ greenbelts so that every resident lives within 5 minutes of a beach, park, greenbelt or other green, open space
  • by 2020, reduce per-capita ecological footprint by 33%
  • by 2020, beat WHO’s (World Health Organization) drinking water standards
  • by 2020, beat WHO’s clean air standards
  • by 2020, reduce the carbon footprint of food production in Vancouver by 33% – focus on organic, local food products

Although the majority of power supplied to Vancouver is from hydroelectricity, wind and solar farms also are energy sources to be used in the plan – through clean energy, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 1/3 by 2020. The priorities for implementing what are termed as “quick start actions” (initial actions to ensure Vancouver reaches the “greenest city” goal) are to reduce fossil fuel dependency and to create green jobs. Vancouver’s GHG targets are to get to 33% below 2007 by 2020 and 80% below 1990 by 2050. GCAT has begun to create their Green Economic Development Strategy (GEDS), implement a green jobs pilot project, and is receiving funding from the federal government and provincial governments for the new green economy.

GCAT is planning comprehensive strategies to help increase the use of public transport, cycling, and walking. GCAT aims to make the streets safer for cycling and pedestrians as well as creating a public bike sharing system. Vancouver metro’s mass transit network, TransLink, has a 10 year plan which will help ensure GCAT meets its GHG reduction and increased public transportation goals. The TransLink system includes the bus system, SkyTrain and other light rail commuter trains, heavy rail, the SeaBus and a connected network of roads, cycling and pedestrian paths. Modes of sustainable mass transit in Vancouver include:

  • Trolley buses serve the downtown area with zero-emission buses
  • SkyTrain – world’s longest automated light rapid transit system
  • West Coast Express – heavy commuter train
  • SeaBus – passenger-only ferry connecting downtown Vancouver and   North Vancouver
  • Cycling – over 400 km of bike routes

For more information on the details of Vancouver GCAT’s plan, see:

Please also see:  Vancouver: Alternative Transit Capital of North America