Canada's big three cities

Canada’s big three cities affirm net zero goal

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The mayors of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are among leaders of 19 major world cities aspiring for net zero carbon emissions across their urban building portfolios by 2050. John Tory, Valérie Plante and Gregor Robertson signed the declaration last month, ahead of the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit, set for September 12-14 in San Francisco.

The pledge is an initiative of the global coalition, C40 cities, and aligned with the World Green Building Council’s call for businesses, local, regional and state governments to commit to the same net zero goal by 2050. The envisioned role of cities will be to establish policy and a regulatory framework to ensure that all new development attains net zero carbon performance by 2030, and to provide incentives and other programs to help transform the existing building stock. They are also expected to demonstrate this commitment in their own holdings and report annually on their progress.

“This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action,” a joint release from the signatories state. Along with Canada’s big three cities, participants include Copenhagen; Johannesburg; London; Los Angeles; New York; Newburyport, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Santa Monica; Stockholm; Sydney; Tokyo; Tshwane, South Africa; and Washington, D.C.

For some, the declaration is a reiteration of existing policies. Notably, Vancouver adopted its Zero Emissions Building Plan in 2016. Toronto followed with TransformTO in 2017.

“We are excited to be signing the C40 Net Zero Carbon Emissions Declaration,” Gregor Robertson says. “Vancouver’s Zero Emissions Building Plan will not only reduce GHG emissions from new buildings by over 60 per cent, but is also driving our green economy with a 53 per cent increase in green building jobs since 2010.”

C40 has become something of a misnomer since the coalition now boasts 96 members, collectively representing more than 700 million residents and wielding clout as the base for one quarter of the global economy.

“As mayors of the world’s great cities, we recognize our responsibility to ensure every building, whether historic or brand new, helps delivers a sustainable future for our citizens,” notes Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, chair of C40. “With this commitment, cities are getting the job done, concretely delivering on the Paris Agreement and building better cities for generations to come.”

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