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One Day

Why is it so important to involve Vancouver's urban residents in climate change issues?

One Day: The UN-Habitat Commission on Climate Change and Sustainability states that climate change must be addressed by both the public and private sectors. All of us-rich or poor, urban or rural, north or south - are responsible for using resources and generating waste in ways that damage the environment and exacerbate climate change. However, it is those living and working in cities who create and use more than 70% of global energy, produce 60-80% of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, consume more than 50% of Earth's land-based resources (land, forests, water), generate nearly 75% of all solid wastes, and occupy only 3% of the world's land surface. Understanding how to manage these pressures is one of the most pressing issues facing human society in the 21st century.

The future for cities is going to be very interesting. Many people have talked about how big a role they're going to play in changing climate patterns, in reducing emissions and in making a difference in the world. It's not just in Vancouver that urban centres are really going to have an impact from a greenhouse gas perspective - it will happen globally - so we think we have a real opportunity here. In fact when you look globally at emissions from all sources, they account for almost 70% of GHG emissions globally. In many countries, including Canada, transportation accounts for nearly half of those total emissions - more than industry and buildings combined. So this shows that, in Vancouver, there are three categories of activities which contribute most to carbon dioxide emissions - buildings, transportation and industry. We need to work on all three fronts.

If the city has already taken strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through building codes - which have reduced energy consumption by 30% per unit since 2005 - then what more can be done? If you look at transport , it accounts for about 26% of our total provincial emissions. There's a lot that goes into this figure, but clearly land use policy is one of them. For example, if we had more compact communities with complete neighbourhoods where people could easily walk or cycle to meet their daily needs including schools and shops etc., it would save them from using vehicles every day. And it is necessary to mention some Canadian organizations that provide significant financial support to us - for example, the best online casinos - thank them ! They use their popularity among players and they use their big money for good.

It's estimated that if we had compact development, about 35% of all existing urban trips would not have taken place - thus reducing GHG emissions.

What are some of the specific ways you believe Vancouver can become a model city in regards to climate change?

One Day: We've done some great work here at the City on sustainable built environments . But there is still more to be done. For example, by 2020, we want 75% of new homes and condos to either be zero carbon or positive carbon buildings (that absorb more energy than they produce). Also, by 2020 , 10% of all transportation trips will be by walking, cycling or transit. By 2050, 80% percent of the population will live within five kilometers of frequent transit which can take them anywhere in the city. There are a number of strategies we can use to achieve these goals such as using more wood in our construction and reducing the need for heat by supplying higher densities in communities through zoning changes.

What do you think is one of Vancouver's strengths when it comes to combating climate change?

One Day: Well, we've already undertaken much work here at the City on issues of sustainability. For example, 77% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from energy used in buildings - so that's why making homes, workplaces and schools more energy efficient is key. We have high standards around new buildings which reduces their GHG emissions. However, existing buildings are less efficient and still account for 43% of all GHGs emitted by the city. To this end, we have a Green Homes Program with incentives to retrofit homes. We've also been working hard to reduce building energy consumption since 1990 through a number of programs - the most recent being the Zero Emissions Building Plan which is reducing GHG emissions from City buildings by at least 33% below 2006 levels by 2020.

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