City’s climate plan highlights some early success along with need to ramp up ambition to meet targets
Vancouver City Council received the first annual report on our Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP), alongside the final Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) update. The GCAP is our decade-long effort toward making Vancouver a more resilient, vibrant, and sustainable place to live, work, and play, and has laid the foundation for today’s bold climate initiatives.
When Council approved the CEAP in November 2020, they endorsed a five-year plan containing six “Big Moves” with 19 actions setting Vancouver on an ambitious path to reduce city-wide carbon pollution by 50% by 2030. Equity is foundational to CEAP, and a Climate and Equity Working group was established to guide this work to ensure that implementation of the actions does not burden struggling residents or disproportionately affect communities.
Vancouver’s targets are in line with the reductions deemed necessary by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to keep global temperature change at 1.5°C.
Progress on our climate actions
- Approval of moderate income rental projects in walkable, transit-oriented locations
- Expanded transit priority to help buses move faster and more reliably
- Updated EV-readiness standards in new non-residential buildings to bring more chargers to places of business
- A fully subscribed heat pump rebate program, cutting the cost of climate friendly heating systems
- Zoning and development allowances to make it easier to build with mass timber
Cities like Vancouver have a big role to play in tackling the climate crisis. Over the last decade, our new buildings have become more energy efficient and climate resilient through building code improvements, and we’ve expanded active transportation infrastructure to change the way we move around the city.
We’ve increased food gardens and natural assets and enabled behavior change to reduce waste. The number of green jobs grew by almost 90%, double the number of local businesses greening their operations versus a decade ago, and we are leading the way within our own operations by making progress on corporate carbon pollution and waste diversion.
The annual report also rated the current likelihood of meeting each of the Big Move carbon reduction targets. The ratings are based on factors such as policy implementation, funding, and staff resources. Despite making progress in 2021, we recognize there is much work left to accomplish.
Staff continue to advance the established actions in the CEAP and will bring forward new concepts and strategies to meet rapidly evolving circumstances and challenges with the goal of reaching the 2030 targets. The annual report highlighted the near term actions that will be coming to Council in 2022, including:
- Updated parking standards for new developments to reduce carbon pollution
- Updated business license fees to encourage EV charging at gas stations and parking lots
- Requirements to reduce carbon pollution from existing buildings
- Standards for low carbon materials and construction practices in new buildings
- A roadmap for nature based climate solutions
Updates from the Vancouver Plan, along with the 2022 capital budget and the next capital plan, will be important milestones for CEAP implementation.
Looking ahead with our Greenest City targets
Over the last ten years, eight of the 18 Greenest City targets have been achieved, and while there are many positive outcomes, there are also lessons to be learned. These lessons have helped shape CEAP, including advancing bold but equitable regulatory actions to bring about the scale of change we need to see, and being transparent in reporting our progress to Vancouver residents and businesses.
Through GCAP, we’ve collectively moved the dial on climate action and Vancouver is recognized as a North American leader in sustainable building codes and transportation. With the earlier, often easier, climate actions complete, CEAP supports Vancouver to step up our efforts with the next level of immediate, decisive, and bold climate action.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart
“With COP26 currently taking place in Glasgow, leaders across the world are discussing ambitious actions to keep global temperatures within 1.5°C,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “It’s evident that all levels of government need to take bold action within their jurisdiction focused on burning less fossil fuels to dramatically reduce carbon pollution before 2030. Our Climate Emergency Action Plan provides solutions to cut our emissions, improve air quality and our health, increase local innovation and our green economy, and align with the science.”
Doug Smith, Sustainability Director
“This year, we experienced our hottest, driest summer on record, which demonstrated the serious health impacts of the climate crisis on our community and our most vulnerable residents,” said Doug Smith, the City’s Sustainability Director. “The recent IPCC report sounded the alarm that inaction on climate means more deadly extreme weather events around the world and our collective actions matter now more than ever.”