Great news! The city of Vancouver (population 600,000+) is now the largest city to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. Their goal is to use only green energy sources for electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation.
Last Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia, the city council approved Mayor Gregor Robertson’s motion to commit the city “to the long term goal of deriving 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.”
The motion set by Robertson highlighted the fact that San Francisco, Sydney, Stockholm, and Copenhagen have already made similar commitments in recent years. In comments, the mayor also said the move by Vancouver was to some degree intended to send a signal to world leaders.
“Cities around the world must show continued leadership to meet the urgent challenge of climate change, and the most impactful change we can make is a shift toward 100 percent of our energy being derived from renewable sources,” said the mayor.
Thanks to a grand amount of hydropower already implemented into British Columbia’s grid, the location is already more than 90% emissions-free (though not totally free of environmental impact). But with this recent motion, Vancouver will soon source all of its energy demand – not just electricity – only from renewable energy sources. In those terms, Vancouver is now at 32 percent renewables.
The biggest change will have to be in the transportation sector, where cars, trucks, and buses powered by gasoline and diesel still rule the roadway.
The toughest reform to tackle, government assistance might be needed to help consumers switch their mode of transport to more green-friendly alternatives. As stated in The Guardian, “The 100% goal is likely to be set for a target year of 2030 or 2035 for heating/cooling, with transport taking until 2040 to 2050. These could happen sooner with national an provincial government support.”
But Vancouver has already been pursuing goals to help reduce transportation pollution, like making the majority of trips in the city by foot, bicycle, or public transportation, and trimming the average distance driven per resident by 20 percent from 2007 levels.
“Just three years ago we were saying 100% renewable really is possible, now many cities and regions are doing it,” said Anna Leidreiter, coordinator of the Global 100% RE Alliance – an international alliance of organizations pushing for a shift away from fossil fuels.