Despite all the hopes and expectations that accompanied the 2004 announcement of the Cool Vancouver Climate Change Action Plan, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Vancouver are still going up. That is according to a report going before this Thursday’s meeting of City Council’s Planning and Environment Committee.
GHG emissions in Vancouver grew by five percent between 1990 and 2006, says report author and Climate Change Program Manager, Sean Pander. Vancouver’s Plan calls for a six percent reduction by 2012. Pander says that won’t happen.
“Meeting the community GHG reduction target of 6 percent below 1990 by 2012 will be a considerable challenge. The business-as-usual projection for 2012 suggests that without new local, provincial, and national action to reduce GHG emissions, Vancouver will fall short of its 2012 target by 10 percent.”
Meanwhile, Vancouver Council passed a motion on June 24, that set a even more ambitious target of a city-wide reduction of 33 per cent of current GHG emissions by 2020 and an 80 per cent reduction by 2050.
COPE Cllr David Cadman, who co-chaired the 2003 Cool Vancouver task force that created the climate change plan, is not surprised by the dismal results.
“How can we possibly expect to meet a target of 33 percent by 2020, when we can’t meet the existing goal of just six percent by 2012?” asks Cadman.”It is clear that Sam Sullivan and this NPA dominated council have put little effort and leadership into implementing Vancouver’s climate change plan.”
“One of Sullivan’s very first moves after being elected was to cut the budget of the Sustainability Department that was responsible for climate change,” said Cadman. “The when Sustainability Manager Tom Osdoba, tried to question Sullivan, he was fired and the department floundered leaderless for almost a year. And finally the entire Sustainability Department was moved from the City Manager’s office, where they had some autonomy, and buried within Engineering.”
Now other cities are moving ahead of Vancouver..
“What frustrates me is what other cities are doing,” said Cadman. “Comparing ourselves to Toronto is interesting. They have gone a lot farther in getting the public on board.”
Since 1991 Toronto’s Atmospheric Fund has given out more than $10 million in grants for community based climate change programs. And Toronto Mayor David Miller hosts an annual Climate Change Forum and Green Toronto Festival.
In 2004 the Cool Vancouver Task Force recommended that Vancouver create a similar fund, and host major events to engage residents, businesses and community groups on climate change. Sullivan, however, has ignored most of the task force’s recommendations.
“In Toronto citizens are recognized for their work on climate change through Environmental Awards of Excellence,” said Cadman. “The Cool Vancouver Task Force wanted to do the same here and recommended expanding the Mayor’s Environmental Achievement Awards to recognize work on climate change. But like so much of Vancouver’s climate change plan, Sullivan has simply dropped the Mayor’s Environmental Awards.”
The last time environmental awards were handed out in Vancouver was 2004 – by former Mayor Larry Campbell.