VANCOUVER — With mounting transit disruptions on Metro Vancouver’s horizon, people are paying more attention to how they get around, including vehicle use. Low-carbon commute options are an important part of the mix. It turns out that the biggest transportation-sector climate wins in Metro Vancouver lie in stronger policies for low- and no-emissions vehicles, according to a new report by the David Suzuki Foundation.
Shifting Gears: Climate Solutions for Transportation in Cities presents transportation solutions that could have a powerful effect in efforts to reach Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments and a proposed new national target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Policies that transition us away from big, fuel-wasting vehicles are proving to be the most effective way to dial down emissions,” said David Suzuki Foundation climate policy analyst Tom Green. The report finds that a low-carbon fuel standard, zero-emissions vehicle mandate and vehicle efficiency/emissions standards come out on top as priority policies to tackle climate change. “There’s lots of opportunity to reduce emissions from all vehicles, whether buses, cars or freight,” Green said.
Broader policies that include land-use planning and improvements to the built environment, active transportation and public transit must be part of the mix. Decarbonizing the transportation sector and supporting active transportation and public transit also improve health and quality of life, provide more transportation choices and help the economy by easing traffic.
“In B.C., we’re on our way toward a low-carbon transition. Now our regional and provincial governments need to get more ambitious,” Green said. The province leads the country with 10 per cent of all new passenger vehicles sold zero-emissions, thanks to federal and provincial rebate incentives, the carbon tax and the competitive cost of electricity. B.C.’s low-carbon fuel standard, with the same 2020 target as California’s, is well-established and ready to be further strengthened.
With about 45 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s emissions coming from the transportation sector, it is urgent to prioritize the most effective policies as the region’s population continues to grow. Reducing carbon emissions from the highly polluting transportation sector is one of the most promising — and essential — climate responses for cities and regions.
“From the streets to the courtrooms to city halls, people throughout Canada are demanding bold climate action. The wins could be enormous and the opportunities plentiful to make the switch to clean transportation choices,” Green said.
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