Explainer: Vancouver’s updated climate action plan

A look at the proposed actions the city is taking to curb climate change

(Kristen Frier)

In early November, the City of Vancouver released its Climate Emergency Action Plan, where they designated six significant climate actions they hope to be completed before 2030.

According to the report, Vancouver generated 2.5 million tonnes of carbon pollution in 2019. Fifty-two per cent stemmed from the burning of natural gas, which is used for heating up buildings and hot water. Thirty-nine per cent comes from the burning of gas and diesel in cars, four per cent from waste, and two per cent from electricity use. Vancouver plans to set a limit on the amount of fossil fuels that buildings can use to curb carbon pollution.

The target for the zero-emission space and water heating plan is to cut the carbon pollution from building operations by half. The plan is to lower emissions to 2007 levels by 2030.

Vancouver City Council wants 90 per cent of Vancouverites to live within close proximity to their daily needs while encouraging the use of bike transportation, transit, and walking. To encourage walking within communities, the city plans to create neighbourhoods that include places like grocery stores, community centres, schools and parks nearby.

Vancouver also wants to introduce a pilot program for e-bikes and Mobi bikes for a sustainable transportation network. This will be happening in addition to them looking into reducing street parking and creating residential parking permits.

To tackle the zero-emission vehicle plan, the city will create more charging stations for electric cars. It will increase charging stations for private properties, encourage gas stations to include charging stations, accommodate passenger fleets in need of charging stations, and include a carbon pollution surcharge on parking permits for newer and more expensive gas and diesel vehicles.

The report states that these parking permits “can be used to reduce parking demand and help better utilize off-street parking spaces.”

Vancouver also wants to work with the provincial government and BC Hydro to “move to electricity rates that support electrification,” which makes it easier for residents to upgrade their electricity service. The plan states that electricity use does not play a huge role in contributing to carbon pollution in the province, since a high percentage of B.C.’s power comes from hydroelectricity.

Apart from BC Hydro, Vancouver will also work with FortisBC and the provincial government to increase the amount of renewable natural gas used and “enable higher blends of renewable gas.”

Finally, they aim to have a 40 per cent decrease in the carbon pollution produced by construction and building materials, which they plan to achieve by using low carbon materials.

There will also be an new report released in 2021, which will cover “the role Vancouver can play in removing carbon pollution from the atmosphere through sequestration actions.”