Greenest City’s annual update highlights achievements and opportunities
The City of Vancouver released its eighth annual Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP) update today, highlighting progress in the plan’s 10 goal areas. Most notably, Vancouver has exceeded 2020 targets for Green Transportation and Access to Nature and, in the City’s operations, our targets for corporate carbon pollution and waste diversion.
Green Transportation – a 38% decrease in distance driven per person since 2007, with an increase in people walking, cycling, and taking transit.
- Access to Nature – 122,000 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 28% decrease in solid waste going to landfill and incinerator since 2008. We are aiming for a 50% decrease, which means focusing not just on recycling, but on reducing consumption in the first place, and on reusing as much as possible.
Ongoing focus areas
- Local Food – we lost a number of community gardens due to land-use pressures and the temporary status of some community plots. The good news in this area includes a rising interest in growing fresh food, the Resilient Neighbourhood Program’s work with community food programs, and Vancouver Food Strategy’s work to create a just and sustainable food system through initiatives such as neighbourhood houses, farmers markets and community food markets.
- Clean Air – our goal to meet or beat the most stringent local and global air quality guidelines was challenged by another record-breaking wildfire season in the summer of 2018. These wildfire events highlight the need to cut the pollutants we put into the air ourselves, by shifting to zero emission vehicles in our City fleet, and enabling Vancouver residents to more easily choose clean and active transportation.
As a result of the goals and targets identified in the GCAP, Vancouver has decreased carbon pollution from buildings, transportation and solid waste by over 29,000 tonnes per year over the past 11 years, while increasing resiliency and preparing for a 100% renewable energy future.
Council declared a Climate Emergency
In 2018, Vancouver’s overall community carbon pollution was down 12% from our 2007 baseline due to improvements in transportation and building codes. City Council declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year to accelerate this work.
The recommendations approved in the Climate Emergency response will mean a nearly three-fold reduction in carbon pollution – an average of 76,000 tonnes per year – to achieve the City’s new 2030 target of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Six Big Moves and 53 Accelerated Actions identified
GCAP, now in its eighth year, will combine with the six Big Moves and 53 Accelerated Actions identified in the Climate Emergency Response to guide the City’s actions in reducing carbon pollution, achieving zero waste, and restoring ecosystems toward negative emissions targets.
Both strategies aim to advance Vancouver’s goal to create a healthy and resilient city that contributes to climate solutions locally and globally. We will engage the public to update our environmental sustainability goals and targets beyond 2020, and integrate with City-wide Plan to advance this work.
As part of the Climate Emergency Response, Council approved the formation of an Equity Working Group to ensure that equity has a central place in the City’s climate emergency and sustainability work moving forward.