City charts a bright green future - Metro US

City charts a bright green future

With bold steps, Vancouver is poised to become the world’s greenest city by 2020, as outlined in the Greenest City Action Team’s recent report.

In so doing, Vancouver can reap tremendous benefits that will come with leadership in the sustainability transition, including lasting, high-quality green jobs.

This Action Team, co-chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson and environmental lawyer David Boyd, is a team of action heroes. Together, they’re chock full of bold goals and great ideas.

Climate change is one villain sure to fall to this team: Although Vancouver is already well ahead of similar-sized North American cities in per-person climate-change pollution, the Team is targeting some of the most aggressive cuts in the world (30 per cent below 1990 by 2020).

Some of the most important actions can’t be tackled by Vancouver alone, but the Team is embracing those challenges also.

For example, the report outlines an innovative financing mechanism so that the up-front costs of energy efficiency investments are actually paid by energy bill savings. Such a mechanism would overcome a major obstacle to smart choices, when builders or owners lack capital or don’t receive the benefits of the long-term cost savings.

But Vancouver doesn’t yet have the needed legal powers, so it proposes to convince the provincial government to amend the Vancouver Charter.

As Vancouver enters the world stage with the 2010 Olympics, now is just the time for the city to showcase its brains and brawn in making Vancouver the world’s greenest city.

A selection of targets for 2020:
• Create 20,000 green jobs
• Plant 150,000 trees
• Enable a majority of city trips by foot, bicycle, and public transit
• Got a good idea? Check out http://vancouver.ca/greenestcity/ and get involved!

– Kai Chan is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC; vancouverletters@metronews.ca.

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