Climate Emergency Motion - Jan 2019


Ramping Up Vancouver’s Climate Action in Response to the Climate Emergency

Submitted by: Councillor Boyle



  1. The British Columbia government declared a provincial state of emergency in 2018 over record-setting wildfires;

         a.   Wildfires in BC broke the record for km2 burned in 2018, surpassing the record of 12,161 km2 and 65,000 forced from their homes in 2017;

         b.   Wildfires in California killed more than 100 people and caused over $14.5 billion in insured losses in 2018;

  2. The Legislature of British Columbia and the House of Commons of Canada acknowledged the growing crisis of climate breakdown by holding emergency debates following the release of the October 2018 IPCC report;

  3. Local governments around the world are taking new actions to avoid the worst impacts of climate breakdown and calling on senior levels of government for a more urgent, emergency response;

  4. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that limiting global warming to 1.5ºC with no or limited overshoot would imply global net CO2 emissions dropping to between 50% and 58% below 2010 levels by 2030, and between 94% and 107% below 2010 levels by 2050. Global net C02 emissions would need to continue to decline into the second half of the century reaching negative net emissions in all scenarios.

  5. The costs to Vancouver for dealing with sea level rise and stormwater and sewer management are significant:

         a.   Staff estimate that approximately $1 billion of flood management infrastructure is needed in Vancouver by 2100. To  operate and maintain this infrastructure, the City will require additional staff and budget estimated at $5 million a year;

         b.   Conservative estimates of the cost of a flood in Vancouver place the value in property and building damage at approximately $7 billion. This does not include the economic impact of business disruption or the cost of clean-up and  rebuilding;

         c.   Regionally, the Fraser Basin Council, a non-profit group that provides regional flood planning support, estimates the potential cost of a major coastal flood at $25 billion for the Lower Mainland.

  6. The world is currently on track for more than 3ºC of warming based on policies currently in place, and those policies will need to be strengthened significantly to 1.5ºC. Vancouver, BC, and Canada are no exceptions.

         a.   Vancouver’s carbon pollution levels are 7% below 2007 levels, which represents an average reduction of less than 1% per year over the past decade. An average annual reduction of over 3% is necessary to meet the City’s 2030 targets.

         b.   BC’s carbon pollution has increased in four of the past five years and the province eliminated its 2020 reduction target because it was on track to miss it by a wide margin. On December 5, 2018, the province introduced a new climate change plan, which is expected to put the province on track for 75% of its 2030 target of 40% below 2007 levels.

         c.   Canada’s carbon pollution was down 4% from 2005 levels to 704 million tonnes. Policies committed to in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Action are only forecast to bring emissions down to 583 million tonnes in 2030, failing to meet the national target of 517 million tonnes.

  7. The City of Vancouver has been taking action on sustainability through it’s Greenest City and Renewable City Action plans, setting a solid foundation for ramping up ambition and action to meet the moral and scientific urgency of climate change.

  8. Past City of Vancouver staff reports acknowledge that “climate change shocks and stresses do not affect all groups in our community equally. Frontline communities, those that have been affected by systemic vulnerabilities and inequities, are often at greater risk from the impacts of climate change and often have the fewest resources to respond and adapt.”

  9. A growing list of cities, districts and counties across the world representing over 15 million people collectively have recently declared or officially acknowledged the existence of a global climate emergency, including Los Angeles, Oakland, and most recently London, England.


  1. THAT COUNCIL recognize the breakdown of the stable climate and sea level under which human civilization developed constitutes an emergency for the City of Vancouver and:

         a.   Direct staff to report back within 90 days on opportunities to:
               i.   increase ambition and/or accelerate timelines for existing actions under the Renewable City Action Plan and Climate Adaptation Strategy;
               ii.    add new actions to help the City achieve its targets;     
               iii.   add new actions that would help reduce GHG emissions beyond the scope of the City’s current climate targets.

         b.    Incorporate into the City’s climate targets and actions the need to achieve net zero carbon emissions before 2050 and net negative carbon emissions in the second half of the century.

  2. THAT COUNCIL direct city staff to establish a remaining carbon budget for corporate and community emissions commensurate with limiting warming to 1.5ºC and report annually on the expenditure of the City of Vancouver’s remaining carbon budget;

  3. THAT COUNCIL direct city staff to establish a “Climate and Equity” working group to provide guidance and support for the City’s efforts to transition off of fossil fuels in ways that prioritize those most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of support in transitioning to renewable energy.       


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