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    March 14, 2017 | 11:02 AM

    Vancouver, New York, and Guangzhou: These Cities Are Making Climate Solutions a Reality

    While a lot of media coverage around the crisis is doom and gloom, cities around the world are coming up with powerful solutions on the local level. Here’s how a Canadian city, an American city, and a Chinese city are taking on climate action.

    Republished from the Cities100 guide (the work of Sustainia, C40 Cities, and Realdania) with permission.

    North America’s First Renewably Powered City

    City: Vancouver, Canada

    Van­couver’s am­bi­tious vis­ion to power the city en­tirely on re­new­able en­ergy will help curb emis­sions from its two biggest emit­ters: trans­port and build­ings.

    Van­couver is the first city in North Amer­ica to de­velop a re­new­able city strategy (RCS) to de­rive 100 percent of the city’s en­tire en­ergy needs from re­new­able sources by 2050. To achieve this goal, the city is pri­or­it­iz­ing ef­forts around re­du­cing emis­sions from its most pol­lut­ing sec­tors, build­ings and trans­port­a­tion, and in­creas­ing the use and sup­ply of re­new­ables. In the trans­port sec­tor, this in­cludes meas­ures such as the pro­mo­tion of re­new­ably powered car-shar­ing fleets and the de­vel­op­ment of stand­ards to sup­port re­new­ably powered private vehicles. Sim­ul­tan­eously, ret­ro­fits of ex­ist­ing build­ings and en­sur­ing the grid en­ergy sup­ply is 100-percent re­new­able will spur the clean en­ergy shift for the city’s build­ing stock.

    Un­der­pin­ning the strategy is an in­nov­at­ive en­ergy sys­tem model that maps en­ergy de­mand across the year and by time of day, match­ing it with an en­ergy sup­ply model to identify the most eco­nom­ical ways en­ergy de­mand can be met by re­new­able sources. In this way, Van­couver is us­ing cut­ting-edge tech­no­logy – em­ployed for the first time by a mu­ni­cip­al­ity – to solve press­ing en­ergy con­cerns and guide plans for a 100 percent re­new­able fu­ture.

    The Result: 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, from 2007 levels, by 2050 due to the RCS.

    Legal Ordinance for Solar-Powered Buildings

    City: New York, New York

    New York City’s gov­ern­ment agen­cies are now leg­ally re­quired to as­sess po­ten­tial solar PV ret­ro­fits at all municipal build­ings.

    In 2016, New York City passed a law re­quir­ing local gov­ern­ment agen­cies to as­sess all city-owned rooftops for solar photo­vol­taic (PV) po­ten­tial, in or­der to sup­port the city’s goal to in­stall 100 MW of solar PV on mu­ni­cipal prop­erty by 2025. Agen­cies must re­port on factors in­clud­ing the po­ten­tial re­duc­tion in en­ergy use and green­house gas emis­sions, the fin­an­cing of the pro­ject, and whether build­ings’ rooftops are suit­able for a solar in­stall­a­tion. In keep­ing track of the pro­jects, the city will also take into con­sid­er­a­tion the fin­an­cial sav­ings ac­cru­ing from CO2 emis­sions re­duc­tions in or­der to bet­ter re­flect the value of the ret­ro­fits.

    To date, the city has in­stalled 8.8 MW of solar PV across 52 mu­ni­cipal build­ings. In­formed by the gov­ern­ment agen­cies’ eval­u­ations, New York City plans to de­velop a strategy to ex­pand the ini­ti­at­ive to 4,000 city-owned build­ings, which in­clude schools, hos­pit­als, lib­rar­ies, court­houses, fire­houses, of­fices, po­lice pre­cincts, wastewa­ter treat­ment plants, and re­cre­ation cen­ters, and which will help the city reach its goal to re­duce citywide green­house gas emis­sions 80 percent by 2050.

    The Result: 35,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions will be reduced by solar projects by 2025.

    >> Related: There’s Still Climate Hope: Six States Leading the Way <<

    Low-Carbon Megacity Encourages Green Growth

    City: Guangzhou, China

    Guang­zhou is plan­ning for an in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion and rising de­mand for en­ergy with a multi-sec­tor, low-car­bon plan for green growth, tar­get­ing in­dustry, in­fra­struc­ture, and build­ings.

    Guang­zhou, a mega­city with a pop­u­la­tion ex­ceed­ing 13 mil­lion, is still in a stage of rapid eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and urban con­struc­tion. In 2012, Guang­zhou launched the Pi­lot Low Car­bon City Im­ple­ment­a­tion Plan in an ef­fort to re­duce green­house emis­sions through sys­tem­atic meas­ures in the grow­ing city. The plan in­cludes the elim­in­a­tion of out­dated in­dus­trial ca­pa­city and equip­ment and the pro­mo­tion of en­ergy-ef­fi­cient tech­no­lo­gies and green, low-car­bon build­ings. Trans­port in­fra­struc­ture is also be­ing tar­geted, with a new pub­lic trans­port sys­tem mainly based on rail transit.

    Both mar­ket mech­an­isms, such as lim­it­ing entry per­mits for high-car­bon pro­jects to con­trol green­house gas emis­sions, and in­sti­tu­tional mech­an­isms, such as stricter emis­sions stand­ards, have been used to pro­mote low-car­bon de­vel­op­ment un­der the plan. Green in­dus­tries have de­veloped quickly in the city, with an ad­ded value of $4.2 bil­lion in 2014, an 11.1% in­crease com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year. As a com­mit­ment to the plan, Guang­zhou an­nounced in 2015 it will reach its car­bon emis­sions peak by 2020.

    The Result: 35.9M tons of CO2 emissions reduced between 2010 and 2014.

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    Learn more about cities taking action to fight the climate crisis. Download the Cities100 guide now. You can also sign up for updates from The Climate Reality Project, and we’ll connect you with ways to take action where you live.



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    The Cities100 guide is the work of Sustainia, C40 Cities, and Realdania.

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    Sustainia is a think tank and consultancy headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. They identify readily available sustainability solutions across the world and demonstrate their potential impacts and benefits in their work with cities, companies, and communities.

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