Metro Vancouver is boosting its climate action by amending its Climate 2050 Strategy to include a commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
The commitment, which includes an interim target of 45% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, aligns with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming. The report makes it clear that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is possible and crucial to prevent exacerbated, and in some cases irreversible, climate impacts.
Metro Vancouver is already experiencing the effects of climate change, including impacts of smoke from unprecedented wildfire activity in western North America in three of the past five summers. Expected future climate impacts include more wildfire smoke, an increase in rainfall intensity, and at least one meter of sea level rise. This level of environmental change will entail significant costs and impact the quality of life for residents and businesses in the region.
For more than 20 years, Metro Vancouver and its member jurisdictions have taken a leadership role in responding to climate change, including steps to prepare for the unavoidable impacts of climate change while reducing GHG emissions in the region. Targets were adopted as part of Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future, the regional growth strategy, and these will now be amended to reflect the new Climate 2050 targets.
Achieving carbon neutrality would require the deepest GHG emissions reductions possible across all economic sectors, and would likely require a commitment to using 100% renewable, fossil fuel-free energy by 2050. It would also mean that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through methods such as reforestation, bog restoration, enhanced carbon storage in aquatic ecosystems, improvements in agricultural soil greenhouse gas management, and potentially the use of technological carbon capture and storage at energy plants and industrial facilities.