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Mapping Enabling Policies for Vancouver’s 100% Renewable Energy Strategy

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In 2015, the City of Vancouver adopted its ambitious Renewable City Strategy (RCS), calling for deep efficiency improvements in buildings and transportation and 100% renewable energy supply by 2050. Vancouver is a leading city in North America, with ambitious building codes, increasingly sustainable transportation systems, and a near 100% renewable electricity supply.

Despite this favourable starting position and its unique municipal authority granted by the Vancouver Charter, achieving the objectives set out in the RCS will require extensive policy reform by the City as well as senior levels of government. In the Canadian context, federal and provincial governments have unique jurisdictions over different aspects of our energy systems.

Canadian cities face challenges advancing the ambitious agendas necessary to prevent dangerous runaway climate change. They must work within a complex web of local, provincial, and federal policies, with important incomplete policy areas yet to be considered.


The purpose of this project was to clarify the roles of different levels of government in relation to the City of Vancouver’s implementation of the Renewable City Strategy. As such, the project was divided into two components:

  1. Creating a set of policy maps, outlining local, provincial, and federal government policies in building and transportation sectors.
  2. Convening a dialogue-based workshop to refine the policy maps of the current context and inform policy development priorities to support this long-term transition. On November 30, 2017, this workshop was convened with representatives from the City of Vancouver, the Government of BC, the federal government, and other key stakeholders.


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Overall, participants valued the opportunity to share knowledge and exchange ideas from across different levels of government and between sectors. During the workshop, participants individually identified top policy priorities to advance the City of Vancouver’s 100% renewable energy target:

  • A federal zero-emissions vehicle mandate
  • A national zero (or net-zero) emissions agenda, integrating a government-wide emissions-reduction lens
  • A national/continental long-distance zero emission transportation strategy for commercial, transit and personal vehicles
  • Comprehensive land use policies to focus urban growth and work towards creating complete, compact, energy efficient communities
  • An electrification strategy
  • A renewable natural gas strategy
  • Stronger multi-level governance systems to enable all levels of government to collaborate and coordinate to achieve shared climate goals
  • Better communications and engagement on climate and energy issues, and linkages to ‘kitchen table issues’ like housing, affordability, and local resilience

Participants agreed that the primary undertaking of this project is a worthwhile one, and have made concrete suggestions to improve this project in the future. The workshop’s evaluation (See Appendix II of the Dialogue Report) yielded that participants are highly likely to become involved in similar consultations in the future, based on their experience in the dialogue.


While this project was aimed at the implementation of the City of Vancouver’s RCS, it’s process and outcomes have broad applicability:

  • The research methodology and dialogue process could be replicated in other jurisdictions.
  • Vancouver’s targets and this multi-level government policy exploration exercise are important as they foretell a grander agenda that will be necessary between the federal government, provinces, and local governments to effectively meet undertake shared climate change mitigation. The City of Vancouver is critically important in this market transformation process.



This project would not have happened without the generous support of the Bullitt Foundation, as well the North Growth Foundation and Sitka Foundation.

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