Vancouver’s growing population, climate uncertainty, rising fossil fuel prices, and shifting economic opportunities challenge the city’s sustainability and call for decisive action and innovation. In 2011, drawing on the city’s long history of taking positive climate action, the Mayor of Vancouver set up the Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP), a bold initiative that aims to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020. This master plan addresses the city’s environmental challenges through a set of ambitious but achievable and measurable targets that put the city on the path to sustainability.
The GCAP contains ten goal areas covering jobs, carbon, the built environment, the natural environment and food. Each goal sets 2020 targets that address three overarching focus areas: zero carbon, zero waste and healthy ecosystems. The 170 actions completed or underway ensure that the targets set will be achieved and that the city is transparent and accountable on its progress.
The City is monitoring its carbon reduction strategy continually and shares the results publicly, using metrics, priority actions and progress updates. For example, the Climate Leadership goal sets a target to reduce community-based GHG emissions by 33% from 2007 levels. The 2012-13 progress report showed a 4% reduction in community carbon emissions, in part from upgrades to the city’s landfill gas capture systems. Early data for 2013-14 indicates the achievement of further emissions reductions.
In 2012, Vancouver adopted the Neighborhood Energy Strategy, which provides a roadmap for district energy development in the city. The City is currently working to identify utility partners for the development of two new neighborhood energy systems and the conversion of an existing natural gas system, which targets a total reduction of 120,000 tCO2e annually by 2020.