Despite rhetoric to the contrary it appears that yesterday's BC Liberal budget is designed to increase greenhouse gas emissions in this province.
The largest sources of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions in our province are from transportation and the fossil fuel extraction industries. So, the government chose to specifically increase activities in these areas.
There were cuts in health care, education and other social services. But no cuts in the province's controversial highway expansion projects. Even though the province's own documents admit that these projects will increase ghg emissions.
And the province kept in place the massive subsidies to the fossil fuel extraction industries. Costing the tax payers millions while increasing pollution.
But the government was not content to rely on these measures alone to increase ghg emissions. It cutback and cancelled many programs designed to reduce emissions.
The PST exemption on bikes, renewable energy systems and energy efficiency products is gone with the new HST. It also cancelled the LiveSmart program which also helped fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Lynn Valley PV
Work began last week on what will be on of the larger photovoltaic (solar electric) installation in the Lower Mainland. Located at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, BC the system will generate about 9 MWh of electricity per year. Installation work is being done by Vancovuer Renewable Energy (http://www.vrec.ca/ ).
Update: the original description about this being the "largest" was based on an older report from BC Hydro which listed net-metering installations. There is also a 10kW installation at SFU.
With the Burrard Bridge bike lanes in the news again recently and today the start of bike month, it might be a good time to review the myths about the Burrard Bridge bike lanes.
And I thought I would add another myth.....
Myth: Vancouver is too cold / rainy / hilly and we will never have the large percentage of the general population cycling like they do in some European cities.
Reality: Tronheim, Norway is one of the top cities in the world for cycling. 18% of the population uses a bike as a daily means of transportation. The city ranges in elevation from sea level to 565 metres (1850 ft). It experiences moderate snowfall from November to March. There are an average of 14 days each winter with at least 25 cm of snow cover on the ground.
Other examples of hilly cities with high cycling poplulations:
- hilly Aarhus, Denmark's second city;
Bike to Work Week
Originally uploaded by Rob__It's bike to work week in Vancouver! Sign-up on-line, track your commute and win a bike: http://www.vacc.bc.ca/
Some interesting quotes from this morning's Metro Vancouver Sustainability Breakfast:
“We have today the most road and parking capacity that we will ever need”
- Bryn Davidson, Executive Director, Dynamic Cities Project
"We need to redesign Gateway...[if we continue with the current design]...we will have wasted that money...we will have sunk it into a design that was inappropriate."
- Anthony Perl, Professor and SFU Director, Urban Studies Program
Originally uploaded by Rob__ This message, "cleaned" into the cement, appeared at various spots around Vancouver on Monday. It makes reference to the province's Gateway Program - a green house gas emitting monster project of highway expansion.
Speaking about the new Provincial Transit Plan, Premier Campbell said "Our transit mission is nothing short of being a global leader in terms of public transit and transit usage."
Unfortunately, the plan will get us no where near to being a "global leader." The new transit plan has ridership reaching 17% by 2020.
But in Stockholm 70 percent of peak period trips are by public transit. In Berlin it is 40% with a goal of 80%. Paris and London are both over 20%.
Other European cities :
Utrecht - 40%
Helsinki - 30%
Zurich - 40%
Copenhagen - 31%
Even some American cities seem to be ahead of us (note: these numbers are for percentage of commuters not total trips):
The BC government has announced a new Provincial Transit Plan.
Finally something that addresses transportation, one of the biggest contributors to ghg emissions in BC. But is it enough?
It appears the first of the new projects announced won't be finished until 2014. This is after the Gateway Program highway expansion. This
indicates to me that highway expansion is still the priority, not mass transit.
The goal of the plan is to increase ridership by 1-5% (depending upon the region) by 2020. This doesn't seem to be enough to meet the 33% ghg reduction that the province has set for 2020.
The plan has a goal of reducing ghg emissions by 4.7 millions tonnes "cumulatively" by 2020. I assume by "cumulatively" they mean over the course of the 6 years that the plan is rolled out. This number seems high given the 1-5% ridership change but if we assume it is correct that works out to about 0.78 million per year.
However, our current annual ghg emissions from light duty vehicles in BC are over 11.1 tonnes. That means that this plan will only reduce emissions by 7 % ! Not even close to the government's target of 33%.
Milan, Italy has instituted a congestion charge. It joins other cities that already have implemented or tired congestion charges such as London, Singapore (the first scheme in the world, started in 1975, upgraded in 1998), Rome, Valletta, and Stockholm. With all the talk about Vancouver being a leader in sustainability why are we falling behind the rest of the world on this very effective measure?
Peter Ladner has an interesting post on why we might want to follow Singapore's example.
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With all the climate news focused on the Bali talks this week, another important story may have been missed. U.S. scientists presented a report that forecast Arctic ice to disappear by 2013. For a public that sometimes has difficulty understanding the more abstract qualities of climate chaos this may be a dramatic wake-up call.
If the forecast is right it will occur just one year after the highway one expansion is scheduled to be completed. This project is projected to increase green house gas emissions from the traffic - already the largest source of emissions for this region. Will there be wide spread public anger against the project? Or will the government in a desperate attempt to meet its climate change goals restrict traffic in such a way that makes the extra lanes unnecessary? Either way it seems like a bigger fiasco than the fast ferries scandal.
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