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City highlights climate actions taken to date and next steps

July 7 2020 –

Today, Council received progress updates on two of the City’s core environmental plans; the Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), and the Climate Emergency Response. Both policies advance Vancouver’s contributions to climate solutions locally and globally, and support a future that safeguards our natural world, supports our local economy, and prioritizes healthy people and communities, and a resilient city. 

Greenest City Action Plan

Next year will be the final GCAP update, completing a decade of environmental action focused on 17 targets under three pillars; zero carbon emissions, zero waste, and healthy ecosystems. Today, staff reported that Vancouver has exceeded GCAP 2020 targets for Green Transportation, Local Food, and Access to Nature and the City is leading the way with its own operations by making progress on corporate carbon pollution and waste diversion.

Highlights

  • Green Economy – a 35% growth in green jobs since 2010, with a particular increase related to design and construction of green buildings.
  • Green Transportation – a 37% decrease in the average distance driven per resident since 2007, with 64% of residents walking, cycling, or taking transit to work. 
  • Access to Nature – 139,000 new trees planted since 2010 to support our urban forest, and the Park Board’s VanPlay goal to create a vast, green network that will connect our parks, waterfront and recreation areas.
  • Zero Waste – a 32% decrease in solid waste going to landfill and incinerator since 2008. Going forward, we need to focus not just on recycling, but on reducing consumption and reusing as much as possible.
  • Local Food – a doubling of food assets, meaning more community gardens and fresh, local produce available in the city.

The GCAP has created a strong foundation for climate action moving forward and positioned Vancouver as a North American leader when it comes to sustainable building codes and transportation. Combined with provincial and federal climate actions, GCAP has decreased carbon pollution from the city’s largest sources - buildings, transportation and solid waste - by nearly 22,000 tonnes per year since it launched, while increasing our resiliency by preparing for a 100% renewable energy future. 

Climate Emergency Response

While these are steps in the right direction, it’s not enough. In 2019, carbon pollution was down 9% from our 2007 baseline, falling short of the 2020 target of a 33% reduction. Vancouver will need to take much bolder climate action to flatten the curve on the climate crisis. Knowing this, City Council declared a Climate Emergency last year to acknowledge the urgency of climate change and commit to scaling-up the City’s work. The recommendations approved in the Climate Emergency Response call for acceleration of carbon pollution reductions by nearly five-fold – an average of 102,000 tonnes per year – to achieve the City’s 2030 target. The response established a series of “big move” actions focused on buildings, which account for nearly 60% of the carbon pollution in Vancouver, and transportation, accounting for nearly 40% of our carbon pollution - and identified 53 accelerated actions. 

Progress on the 53 Climate Emergency accelerated actions was presented to Council today: nine are complete, 30 are on track, and 14 are delayed. 

Highlights

  • Completion of 12km priority bus lane on 41 Ave, which adds one-third capacity while reducing travel times on the second busiest bus corridor in the region 
  • Addition of six new DC fast chargers and seven Level 2 EV chargers to Vancouver’s public electric vehicle charging network 
  • Near-zero emissions space and water heating requirements in the Vancouver Building Bylaw for new low-rise residential buildings
  • Amendments to the building bylaw to allow mass timber construction for buildings up to 12 stories, reducing carbon-related pollution from typical concrete construction by 25-45% while improving energy efficiency and insulation effectiveness

The Climate Emergency Action Plan, which is the new five-year action plan, will be brought to Council this fall. It is currently being developed with input from Vancouver residents, businesses and stakeholders. To help secure a central place for equity within the City’s climate emergency and sustainability work moving forward, a Climate and Equity Working Group has been formed and is providing input. 

The Climate Emergency Action Plan is being developed as a component of Vancouver Plan, and in coordination with the City’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Find more on the Greenest City