Vancouver is a green city visionary. The city has an ambitious action plan to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Vancouver has reported impressive sustainability plans covering carbon neutrality, energy and adaptation. These include over 125 different actions to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change.
Photo credit: Luminalt Energy
While Vancouver’s population and economy continue to grow, automobile usage is declining. In addition to expansions to the regional public transit system, the city has embarked on a program to rapidly expand and improve its cycling infrastructure with 245km of cycle routes. These measures are clearly achieving the desired results demonstrated by the 35% increase in cycling between 2008 and 2011. The city has also mandated that all new residential development should include charging stations for electric vehicles. Vancouver is also rapidly expanding its network of public charging locations.
Vancouver is advocating for the government of British Colombia to implement Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs which will hold businesses responsible for taking care of used products and packaging they have sold. Not only does this reduce the cost of waste disposal for city residents, it also provides incentives for manufacturers to design products and packing in a more environmentally sustainable way. Actions taken so far include demands that businesses develop EPR systems for packaging and printed paper by May 2014, and building materials, carpet, furniture and textiles by 2017. This program would ensure business-run recycling systems for plastic bags, coffee cups and fast-food packaging.
Vancouver is implementing a pioneering Neighborhood Energy Strategy as a means of promoting renewable energy systems. The strategy targets areas of the city with the greatest potential to reduce carbon emissions. One Neighborhood Energy Utility is already up and running, and eight new Neighborhood Energy Systems are now being planned or developed. It is estimated that these systems will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in these neighborhoods by up to 70% by 2020.