The race is on: Vancouver commits to 100% renewable energy

When you are living through a transition point, it can be hard to see it to work out the signal from the noise, and this is certainly the case for the current renewable energy transformation. What can look inevitable in hindsight doesn’t feel like it in the middle of the fight, however the signposts are all pointing in the direction of progress right now.

Recently, Bloomberg New Energy Finance declared the fight over – calling the battle won for renewable energy and saying it’s all a matter of when, not if we switch fully to renewable energy.

Similarly in March, the City of Vancouver passed a motion committing to becoming powered 100% by renewable energy. This commitment will make Vancouver the first city in Canada to become fully renewably powered, joining other leading cities like Sydney, Copenhagen, and San Francisco in the race to be 100% renewable.

This is the really interesting thing about climate action right now – the renewable transition race is not playing out at the international political level of UN negotiations or economy-wide carbon pricing schemes, it’s happening at the local and city level. Where the federal governments of Canada, Australia and the United States have stonewalled carbon pricing, rolled back action or been unable to pass legislation in a dysfunctional congress, cities, states and regions have been racing ahead.

Consumers are voting with their dollars for renewable energy changing markets faster than utilities realize they are no longer in the same playing field, and the places that are racing each other to complete the renewable energy transition are creating hubs of innovation for companies and employees alike.

Vancouver is one of the leading examples of the huge flow-on benefits from leading the renewable energy transition – the city is recognized as one of the world’s most livable annually, has a thriving green tech sector, LEED building sector and became the new home of the annual TED Conference in 2014. The City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Plan attracts more delegations each year seeking to find out how the renewable transition is going and what they can learn for their own jurisdictions, so it’s fitting that the first Renewable Cities Global Learning Forum will be taking place in Vancouver this May.

The Renewable Cities program is based at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and aims to be a hub of practical advice for cities aiming to implement policies and processes to work towards renewable goals. The Forum in May will bring together sustainability leaders, city staff and leading experts to work through the how of ‘how do we get there?’ in striving for 100% renewables.

How do you get the public on board? What policies have been effective? What are the best practices to learn from? Who is getting there first and how did they do it? These are all questions the Forum aims to answer, and Climate Access will be there to present about the communication of renewable energy policies.

The race of our renewable transition is well and truly on, and the cities and states that get there first will reap the social, environmental and economic benefits. Come learn how and get into the race with the Renewable Cities Forum in May 2015.

images via Renewable Cites and Amy Huva