Vancouver’s ambitious vision to power the city entirely on renewable energy will help curb emissions from its two biggest emitters: transport and buildings.

The Challenge

In recent years, Vancouver has grown significantly and now uses more than 59.3 million gigajoules (GJ) of energy a year, resulting in 2.8 million tons of CO2 emissions. By using innovative energy models to target the sectors most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, buildings and transportation, the city is mitigating its carbon footprint and working toward its goal of using only renewable energy by 2050.

The Solution

Vancouver is the first city in North America to develop a Renewable City Strategy (RCS) to derive 100% of the city’s entire energy needs from renewable sources by 2050. To achieve this goal, the city is prioritizing efforts around reducing emissions from its most polluting sectors, buildings and transportation, and increasing the use and supply of renewables. In the transport sector, this includes measures such as the promotion of renewably powered car-sharing fleets and the development of standards to support renewably powered private vehicles. Simultaneously, retrofits of existing buildings and ensuring the grid energy supply is 100% renewable will spur the clean energy shift for the city’s building stock. Underpinning the strategy is an innovative energy system model that maps energy demand across the year and by time of day, matching it with an energy supply model to identify the most economical ways energy demand can be met by renewable sources. In this way, Vancouver is using cutting-edge technology – employed for the first time by a municipality – to solve pressing energy concerns and guide plans for a 100% renewable future.

Environmental Benefits – The cumulative effect of the strategy, when fully implemented by 2050, is to reduce the city’s total energy use by one-third compared to 2014 levels, saving 21 million GJ of energy a year.

Social Benefits – The city plans to permanently ban car traffic on a number of downtown streets under the RCS in order to create vibrant and active public spaces.

Economic Benefits – The shift to renewable energy promotes innovation and the development of new business models and technologies that can boost employment in green sectors.

Health Benefits – The RCS is closely tied to Vancouver’s Healthy City Strategy, a comprehensive plan for social resilience and sustainability.

About Cities100

In its second year, Cities100 – presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation. For the first time, this year’s publication features solutions that address the nexus of climate change and social equity.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2016 publication online here and read more about how may­ors will de­liver the aims of the Paris Agree­ment in a fore­ward by Anne Hidalgo, C40 Chair and Mayor of Paris, here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Social
Key Impact
80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, from 2007 levels, by 2050 due to the RCS
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