Vancouver - Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP)


Vancouver has a long history of taking positive climate action, leading up in 2011 to the Greenest City Action Plan, an initiative to address Vancouver's environmental challenges through a set of ambitious but achievable and measurable targets that put the city on a sustainable path.

Vancouver faces challenges from a growing population in a tightly bound land area, as well as its role as an economic, social and cultural hub. The city also faces climate risks as a coastal city. Responding to the need for decisive action and innovation, GCAP aims to build a more vibrant community and a thriving green economy.


GCAP’s targets contain targets with clear performance indicators to drive accountability, prioritization, and continual improvement. Community-wide and building-sector greenhouse gas emissions inventories—updated annually to international standards—are two key GCAP metrics.

Built through public/stakeholder consultation and input from over 35,000 people around the world, GCAP has set the example for best practice in citizen collaboration and built the partnerships needed to achieve our bold vision and become a leading city in sustainability. A fund to support residents through grants to take action on GCAP has distributed over $1.5M to date, supporting hundreds of projects.

Economic benefits include greater business activity and employment in a number of sectors. A study by the Vancouver Economic Commission shows the number of green jobs has increased by 19% since 2010, and now employs 20,000 people. Many of these jobs have an element of social enterprise and innovation.

Projected Outcomes

GCAP's 2020 targets include: 

  • Reduce GHG emissions by 33% compared with 2007 levels. In 2014, GHG emissions were down by 7%.
  • Require all buildings from 2020 to be carbon neutral; reduce energy use and GHG emissions in existing buildings by 20% compared with 2007 levels.
  • Exceed the highest water quality standards; reduce per capita water consumption by 33% compared with 2006 levels. In 2014, consumption was down by 16%.
  • Over 50% of trips by foot, bike & public transit (this target was achieved in 2014.) Reduce average distance driven per resident by 20% over 2007 levels.
  • Double the number of green jobs over 2010 levels; double the number of green companies compared with 2011 levels.
  • Reduce solid waste going to the landfill or incinerator by 50% from 2008 levels. As of 2013, solid waste to landfill or incinerator decreased by 18%.
  • Plant additional 150,000 trees; ensure every resident lives within a 5 minute walk of a park/green space.
  • Reduce Vancouver's ecological footprint by 33% compared with 2006 levels.
  • Meet or beat the most stringent regional, national, and WHO air quality guidelines

Rather than centralizing implementation in one sustainability department, GCAP embeds responsibility for meeting the defined targets within the City departments where the specific expertise lies. This ensures longevity and demands innovative solutions from across the city.