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2019 year in review

When we look back on 2019, we will likely regard it as the tipping point year of climate change consciousness. It began to build in late 2018 with IPCC’s watershed 1.5°C Report. It has been reinforced by call after call for action: grassroots demands from younger generations for an “Extinction Rebellion” to REN21’s City Hall State of Renewables Manifesto, and further scientific evidence on climate change implications, from the peaks of snow capped mountains to the depths of our oceans (IPCC’s Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere).

Almost 5 years ago, Renewable Cities was conceived to help drive home the audacious imperative of 100% renewable energy and the critical role of cities in this transformational agenda. 100% RE was on the margins of climate action discourse, and climate action discourse was on the back burner of most policy agendas. Together, we’ve helped take climate action and the 100% RE/net zero imperative from the margins to the mainstream!

Over the last year, we have continued to build capacity for elected officials, policy analysts and practitioners to transform these commitments to practical, on-the-ground policies and actions. Thank you for joining us on our journey in 2019 as we helped accelerate the transition to renewable, resilient, restorative cities.


International Conferences

In May, Renewable Cities hosted the State-City Collaboration on Clean Energy Transformations, a conference to activate conversations on collaborative governance. The event brought together 250 local, national and international participants and thought-leaders from precedent-setting jurisdictions to discuss the transformative role of good multi-level, multi sectoral governance to drive clean energy solutions across many key urban sectors.

In September, we partnered with Edison Electric Institute to co-host the 2019 Global Grid Forum, a conference on energy transition and climate risk management for utilities and policy-makers from around the world.

Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues

We delivered a half dozen high-level dialogues on policy, practice and governance innovation in key urban RE agendas for diverse public and private sector partners. Our multi-stakeholder workshops, such as Charging Forward: E-Mobility Innovations, used research-based dialogue and collaboration to identify and share solutions for zero emission transportation, sustainable land use, zero emission, mass timber construction, and the circular bioeconomy.


Policy Briefings and Speaking Engagements

This year, we expanded our advisory role with cities and senior governments, focusing on the urban RE agenda. We were solicited to advise local, provincial and national governments, utilities, transit authorities and the private sector on policy reform and market transformation to accelerate progress on biofuels, the circular economy, zero emission transportation, sustainable land use and deep integration of affordability and climate action.

Domestically, we have been steadily advancing key policy agendas: sustainable land use and transportation infrastructure, zero emission transportation, deep affordability and climate action, and municipal waste, renewable natural gas and the circular bioeconomy. This effort is translating into policy such as the City of Vancouver’s top climate emergency response, which actively advances the central role of land use, as well as integrating an affordability and climate action agenda. CleanBC and the Federal Government are now both exploring how to work with local governments so that infrastructure investments maximize opportunities for cutting carbon, congestion and commute time.


  • The Hill Times | Federal Transit Spending could Sustain High Cost, High Carbon Cities: The biggest Pan-Canadian Framework expenditure—transit infrastructure—will have negligible impact on GHGs. Rapid transit rails are rolling through forests and farms, pushing people further and further from workplaces. To drive reductions in the largest and most rapidly growing GHG sector—road based transportation—episodic transit funding must be replaced with a stable, permanent commitment. Every order of government must agree to hard performance targets to cut carbon, congestion and commute time.
  • Georgia Straight | B.C. Ferries Should Focus on Communities, Carbon Reduction, and Clean Tech, not Cars and Congestion: BC Ferries just invested in a fleet of diesel hybrid ferries that may transition to electricity “when the technology matures.” The technology is mature! Zero emission ferries are plying the waters of progressive jurisdictions around the world. We need a domestic clean energy agenda with strengths in battery electric, hydrogen and renewable natural gas solutions. B.C. must transform, rather than tinker with, a fundamentally flawed high-carbon, high-cost, high-congestion transportation system that forces millions of passengers to drive 100s of millions of km out of their way to far-flung ferry terminals. A cost-effective strategy to alleviate some of the province’s biggest bottlenecks is moving a share of ferries to electric, foot-passenger service, reinforcing good land use and transportation in coastal communities.
  • BC Today, CBC Radio | World Scientists Climate Emergency Call: A review of the BioScience climate emergency declaration by 11,000 scientists—guest expert Alex Boston offers perspectives on climate solutions.
  • Georgia Straight | Cities and States can Tackle the Climate Crisis Together: A climate crisis is upon us. Cities and states are stepping up to tackle it, but they can’t do it without strong state, provincial, and national leadership. Alex Boston and Gregor Robertson make the case for collaboration.
  • Georgia Straight | Vancouver’s New Frontier—Integrating Climate Action and Affordability: Vancouver is poised to chart a path demonstrating the intensity of effort required to avoid the most serious consequences. The city can blaze a trail to be followed by others, simultaneously tackling climate change and affordability, and mainstreaming land use planning as a central agenda.
  • BC Today, CBC Radio | B.C. Government’s climate change strategy: Live commentary  of the Provincial Government’s CleanBC launch—the re-emergence of BC as a North American climate action champion—with guest expert Alex Boston.

2019 has been an inspirational year, as hundreds of cities around the world adopted climate emergency resolutions. As we look forward with 2020 vision, we foresee two big challenges:

  1. Making sure climate emergency resolutions are not treated like New Year’s resolutions, abandoned by the false intrigue of high-carb diets that compromise quality and quantity of life.
  2. Reinforcing our resolutions with defensible strategies, effective partnerships and sectoral and sub-sectoral targets to inform and evaluate implementation of wonderful, walkable solutions to wicked problems.

We look forward to continuing our journey with you in 2020, as we continue building strategies for renewable, resilient, restorative cities.