What a year, locally to internationally—2018 was flush with new events, research projects, knowledge exchange, timely interventions and more. What did Renewable Cities get up to over the past year? Find out by reading our annual review, which features a high-level snapshot of select Renewable cities activities and outcomes during the year.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: YEAR OF OPPORTUNITY
In 2018, the Government of British Columbia began the development of a new climate plan to reach its legislated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets. Recognizing an opportunity to further a shared energy efficiency and renewables agenda, Renewable Cities undertook a series of interventions to accelerate local government and provincial policy.
We began the year by welcoming George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, to a public dialogue to explore the urban energy opportunity. At the event, participants discussed how local governments could play a role in supporting provincial climate priorities while delivering on affordability, economic and other co-benefits.
In February, Renewable Cities published the results of a policy mapping project, which was launched to support the implementation of the City of Vancouver’s 100% renewable energy (RE) strategy. The project examined how the different levels of government can better collaborate to enable the urban energy transition, which is essential for any jurisdiction working to advance transformative policy.
Recognizing an immense opportunity for local governments to contribute to RE production, Renewable Cities initiated a community renewable natural gas (RNG) research project in June. Initial results have shown that communities RNG production could contribute to substantial reductions in GHG emissions. This work was presented with FortisBC and the Capital Regional District during a workshop at the Union of BC Municipalities’ annual meeting. Results from this project will be available in 2019.
In October, municipal elections in British Columbia flipped city councils and mayorships throughout Metro Vancouver. New local elected officials pledged to shake up Metro Vancouver’s $8.5 billion transit investment plan by pursuing major changes to rapid transit in the region. For its part, Renewable Cities responded to these developments by building the case for strengthening land-use for existing and proposed SkyTrain systems.
Later in October, TransLink, Greater Vancouver’s transit authority, took the bold step of adopting a 100% renewable energy strategy. Renewable Cities lauded TransLink’s forward-looking plan and took an opportunity to examine the potential for a zero-emission strategy for bus fleets throughout the province. Following TransLink’s commitment, Renewable Cities hosted both Seattle and Vancouver’s public transportation authorities at a public dialogue to explore the transition to 100% renewable transit.
At the conclusion of 2018, the Government of British Columbia released CleanBC, the first component of its new climate plan, which featured bold commitments to zero-emissions vehicles, renewable natural gas and building retrofits. For its part, Renewable Cities provided input into the plan’s development and will continue working to advance an integrated community energy agenda as CleanBC is developed in 2019 and beyond.
NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ENERGY
Outside of British Columbia, the Renewable Cities team leveraged timely opportunities to advance urban energy efficiency and renewables, in Canada and internationally.
Crucially, in March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change convened its inaugural Cities and Climate Change Science Conference in Edmonton. With policy-makers and other sectoral researchers present, the conference yielded the Edmonton Declaration, representing a new high watermark of international urban climate and energy ambition. At the conference, Renewable Cities’ executive director, Alex Boston, presented research outlining how gentle land-use intensification can support both housing affordability and GHG mitigation.
Through its Investing in Canada Plan, the Government of Canada has committed to nearly $30 billion to public transit infrastructure projects across the country, as an effort to cut commute times and air pollution. While Renewable Cities lauds public transit as a cornerstone of sustainable urban mobility, there are enormous opportunities to strengthen the effectiveness of Canada’s investment into light rail and other transit infrastructure projects. In May, Renewable Cities executive director, Alex Boston, raised the issue by testifying at the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
In September, some of the world’s leading climate and energy innovators—including governments, companies and other actors—gathered in San Francisco at the Global Climate Action Summit to advance deeper action on mitigation and renewables. In partnership with the Sierra Club, Grid Alternatives and ICLEI USA, Renewable Cities convened a dialogue workshop for cities committed to 100% renewable energy, the third event in an annual series. This workshop helped local governments identify high-impact priorities to move rapidly towards implementation of 100% RE and was attended by staff and elected officials from cities around North America.
Over the course of autumn, Renewable Cities delivered its online course, Renewable Energy Transition Strategies: Practical Innovations for Urban Areas. Co-convened with Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Environment, the interdisciplinary program was delivered to a cohort of diverse professionals working to advance energy efficiency and renewables.
In November, Renewable Cities announced State-City Collaboration on Clean Energy Transformations, which will take place in Vancouver, B.C. May 29-30, 2019. The conference will be held in parallel with the 2019 Clean Energy Ministerial, a gathering of energy ministers and other sectoral leaders from the world’s largest economies. Building on international precedents, Renewable Cities’ conference will facilitate a deep dive into practical senior-local government collaboration.
We hope to see you in Vancouver from May 29-30, 2019!
2018 events and videos
- B.C.’s climate plan and the urban opportunity with George Heyman, British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (February 9, 2018)
- New mobility and energy futures, with Ethan Zindler, Head of Americas for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (March 13, 2018)
- Germany’s energy transition and cities: economic insights and good policy, with Claudia Kemfert, Head of Department, DIW Berlin (April 12, 2018)
- Renewable natural gas: unlocking local government potential in B.C., with the City of Surrey, Government of British Columbia and FortisBC (June 15, 2018)
- 100% renewable transit: Seattle and Vancouver, with King County Metro and TransLink (November 28, 2018)