Sustainability | Renewable Energy

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GREENEST City Action Team


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 (GCAP) in 2009, to achieve zero waste, zero carbon, and healthy ecosystems for Vancouver, in order to make Vancouver "the greenest city in the world".

*** 2020 update to the Greenest City Action Plan is given here by Brad Badelt, assistant director of sustainability for the city>>>

Vancouver did not meet all its targets; being the greenest city was "really an aspirational goal."

One aspiration was to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 33 per cent below 2007 levels. According to Badelt,  "We've seen them drop by about 12 per cent to date," said Badelt on The Early Edition Friday. "We had success, but it certainly needs to ramp up dramatically and that's partly why we declared a climate emergency last year."

Badelt said the city has reduced people's dependency on cars. He said Vancouver is a leading North American city for the number of people walking, biking and using public transit; and said the coming Broadway subway line will further help.

And in terms of green space and wildlife, Badelt said Vancouver consistently ranks among the top environmental cities in the world and has increased its number of community gardens in recent years.

Badelt said the city is also doing well at constructing low-emission buildings, noting the average emission for a new building is about half what it was a decade ago.

"We're on track by 2025 to have essentially zero emissions new buildings in the city," said Badelt.  FROM -

The specific goals for the GCAT:

  • create 20,000 new green jobs and become an international center for green business
  • reduce GHG emissions by 33% compared to 2007 levels, and become a leading city in fighting climate change
  • 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)
  • all new industrial/ municipal construction to be carbon-neutral, improve efficiency of existing buildings by 20%
  • over 50% of commutes by walking, biking, or public transport
  • reduce waste heading to landfills or incinerator by 40%
  • 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
  • reduce per-capita ecological footprint by 33%
  • beat WHO's (World Health Organization) drinking water standards
  • beat WHO's clean air standards
  • 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 is 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 its 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 create 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:

  • Trolleybuses serve the downtown area with zero-emission buses
  • SkyTrain – the 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

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