Half-Way There: Vancouver plans to become world’s greenest city

In 2010, the City of Vancouver introduced an ambitious plan to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Known colloquially as “The Greenest City”, this Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP) serves as a guide for Vancouver to achieve bold targets in 10 goal areas – ranging from climate leadership to zero waste and even local food.

This summer Vancouver is celebrating the half-way point of the GCAP. When first created, a suite of actions were presented to help us move towards achieving the targets that were laid out – such as creating a pedestrian safety action plan to enhance walking and reducing use of bottled water through the expansion of public access to drinking water. To date, 80% of these original actions have been completed.

We’ve also started to reach some of the GCAP targets. For example, the target to reduce the average distance driven per resident by 20% was surpassed, with a total reduction to date of 21%, and 50% of trips in Vancouver are now made by foot, bicycle, and public transit.

Additionally, the amount of waste going to landfill or incinerator has been reduced by 18% from 2008 levels and greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by 7% from 2007 levels; all while Vancouver’s population grew and green economy flourished. A 2014 report by the Vancouver Economic Commission revealed that Vancouver has 3,200 new green jobs since 2010.

We are excited about the progress so far, but there is still a lot of work to do in order for Vancouver to reach the targets that we’ve set out. Together with a team of sustainability experts, the City is working to identify a new set of actions that will serve as a guide for our next few years and take us closer to achieving our 2020 targets.

Becoming a truly sustainable city means Vancouver will continue to work toward green goals even after the Greenest City 2020 targets have been achieved. Cities worldwide have identified that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of 2007 levels by 2050. This is necessary if we are to avert the worst effects of climate change. To this end, City Council has re-committed to the long term goal of getting 100% of Vancouver’s energy from renewable sources.  

By working together, the communities, businesses, and organizations of Vancouver will demonstrate how we are leading a global movement for sustainable living and a more sustainable world. 

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