Market News

 October 21, 2009
The Greening of Vancouver

 GLOBE-Net - The City of Vancouver has released its long-term action plan for becoming the greenest city in the world.

The report, Vancouver 2020: A Bright Green Future outlines a broad long-term vision for the City, as well as ten specific goals that need to be achieved by 2020 in order to become the global leader in progress toward an environmentally sustainable future.

As outlined by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, a green economy, green jobs, greener communities, and human health are the key facets of the plan.

The Top Ten Goals for 2010 are:

  1. Green Economy Capital: 20,000 new green jobs
  2. Climate Leadership: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent from 2007 levels
  3. All new construction carbon neutral. Improve efficiency of existing buildings by 20 percent
  4. Green Mobility: Make the majority of trips (over 50 per cent) on foot, bicycle, and public transit
  5. Zero Waste: Reduce solid waste per capita going to landfill or incinerator by 40 per cent
  6. Easy Access to Nature: Every person lives within a five-minute walk of a park, beach, greenway or other natural space. Plant 150,000 additional trees in the city
  7. Lighter Footprint: Reduce per capita ecological footprint by 33 percent
  8. Clean Water: Always meet or beat the strongest of B.C., Canada, and World Health Organization drinking water standards; reduce per capita consumption by 33 percent
  9. Clean Air: Always meet or beat World Health Organization air quality guidelines, which are stronger than Canadian guidelines
  10. Local Food: Reduce the carbon footprint of our food by 33 percent per capita

The plan seeks to eliminate Vancouver’s dependence on fossil fuels and in doing so reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent from 2007 levels. Vancouver produces just less than five tonnes per capita with only a few cities in Europe bettering that said Mayor Robertson.

To make Vancouver a world leader in the design and construction of green buildings all new construction in the city will be required to be carbon-neutral and existing buildings will have to improve their energy efficiency by 20 per cent.

A keen cyclist himself, Robertson wants to encourage greener mobility by having more than 50 per cent of residents walking, cycling or using public transit to move around the city. Green travel now comprises 37 per cent of trips, Robertson said, and that "could be helped along by the price of oil in the near future."

The goal of reducing the amount of solid waste per capita that goes to landfills or is incinerated by 40 per cent may prove a contentious. There is considerable debate at the moment in Metro Vancouver over proposals to build a number of waste incinerators to reduce the volume of waste ending up in landfills and to generate energy.

Giving every Vancouver citizen easy access to nature by providing access to green spaces is likely to be well received. Vancouver already is noted for its large amount of green space - and in particular for the spectacular Stanley Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. The City proposes another 150,000 trees to be planted in the city within the next 10 years.

Robertson said the city now has a "four-planet" level of consumption and waste, and the goal is to reduce this footprint from seven hectares to 1.8 hectares per person.

To make Vancouver a global leader in urban food systems and reducing the carbon footprint of food production by 33 per cent opens the possibility of urban farming in the city. Several innovative designs have been proposed elsewhere in the world, and it is possible one or more of these ideas will take root in Vancouver.

The full Green Plan for Vancouver is available here.

For More Information: Vancouver Economic Development Commission