The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. The goals that I will be covering is “Sustainable cities & communities”. One of the countries that possesses or is achieving these goals is Canada. One city in Canada stands out from the rest when issue about sustainability and ensuring that green transportation is carried out in their cities is Vancouver.
Their vision is to be staying on the leading edge of urban sustainability and be ranked top greenest cities in the world. Their goals through achieving it is by ‘greenest city action plan’. This plan includes 10 goal areas addressing three overreaching area of focus which is zero carbon, zero waste and healthy ecosystem.
Vancouver has been on the environmental & sustainability activism for decades. With the lowest carbon footprint of any major city in North America continent, Vancouver has several policies and programs in place to reduce emissions.
In 1990, it became one of the first country to address the issue about climate crisis and made a ‘Greenest city action plan’ whereby they set goals to achieve by 2020. These goals include increasing green jobs, ensuring green transportation as well as reducing greenhouse emissions. Since implementing it, the plan has garnered global attention which took center stage at the Paris COP21 Climate Change Summit. Vancouver was than given a coveted C40 Cities Award for their well versed ‘Greenest City Action Plan’.
So far, the plan seems to be working. In 2016, Vancouver announced that it had achieved 80% of the goals that were in the action plan. The city had already cut down greenhouse emission by 7% since the action plan takes place. One strategy that they implemented by decreasing the greenhouse emission is by green transportation. Vancouver announced that 50% of all trips we made by people walking or biking throughout the cities to get to their destination.
They started off by creating bike lanes on the roads for Canadians to use but realized that most of the Canadians were not using it. Only those hardcore cyclists were using it. They found out that those bike lanes were not effective in attracting citizens to be using it as a way of transportation as some of them we concerned about their safety travelling on the road.
They need to attract and convince the people who weren’t hardcore and were afraid of traffic to use biking as a mean for their transportation. What they did was building an ‘AAA’ (all ages and abilities) bike routes. This means that they implemented a protected bike paths in the high traffic area of the cities whereby concrete planters acts as a barrier to traffic and allowing cyclists their own dedicated space and feeling a sense of safety when travelling in those AAA bike routes.
Other than green transportation they also revolve around ‘green buildings’ strategy to achieve their goal of zero carbon under the ‘greenest city action plan’. Through this goal, they aim to lead the world in green design and construction. Under this strategy, it requires all building constructed by 2020 onwards to be carbon neutral in operations and also reducing energy use and greenhouse gas in existing building by 20%. As almost half of the building in Vancouver will still be around in the near future, 90% of carbon pollution produced by these houses is due to burning natural gas in furnaces and hot-water boilers.
Therefore, in lowering the emission in these existing buildings, the city had invested a $5 million fund to help building owners to switch to an electric system such as heat pumps and on-demand electric hot water. By changing to an electric system, it has benefited building owners due to better air quality in buildings and heat pumps can heat out and cool your building in summer rather than just heating your house in winter only. Since then, the city had now cut down 11% of greenhouse emission from all buildings since 2007.