Wednesday, April 3, 2019

More transit and clean energy vehicles, plus mobility pricing required to reduce climate change

As I posted about on Monday, greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings and transportation systems are responsible for about two-thirds of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Metro Vancouver. I previously posted about what can be done to reduce GHG emissions from residential buildings. Today, I’ll be posted about what can be done to reduce the 37% of GHG emissions that are caused by our transportation system.

As documented in a report in the Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee’s most recent agenda, both the BC Liberals and BC NDP had/have plans to reduce GHG emissions. When the Liberals were in power, it was the B.C. Climate Leadership Plan. The current BC NDP/Greens plan is called the B.C. Clean Growth Strategy.

Both of these plans call for an increase in public transit, and as shown in the following graph, while the current TransLink 10-Year Vision is having an impact on reducing GHG emissions, more is needed to reduce emissions further.

Metro Vancouver Personal Transportation GHG emissions. Hashed red line shows impact of 10-Year Vision. Yellow line is where we need to be. Select chart to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

Not only do we need to invest more into public transit, but we must also look at a whole host of options to reduce GHG emissions caused from transportation. The following list shows the policies supported by the Metro Vancouver Regional District that are in the current provincial strategy.

  • Zero emissions vehicle mandate that would require automakers to report on their sales in 2019, meet targets starting in 2020 for new vehicle sales (increasing annually to at least 10% in 2025 and 30% in 2030), and a possible ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel light duty vehicles by 2040.
  • Continue incentives for the Clean Energy Vehicle Program until zero emissions vehicles make up 5% of all new light-duty vehicle sales.
  • Take measures to encourage charging station installations at businesses and other buildings.
  • Expand the Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive Program, which supports the purchase of clean heavy duty vehicles, buses, transport trucks, motorcycles, and heavy equipment.
  • Increase the stringency of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard by decreasing the average carbon intensity of fuels by 15% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
  • Continue to invest in transit and investment in clean transportation infrastructure that is inter-connected, providing easy access to clean options and reducing demand for vehicles.
  • Development of demand-management programs, which focus on finding ways to reduce traffic overall, so people ultimately drive less.

Mobility pricing has been shown to be an effective demand-management program to reduce congestion which reduces GHG emissions. A good examples of this is how removing tolling on the Port Mann Bridge caused an overnight increase in congestion and emissions.

While the current province strategy called for demand-management programs such as road pricing, it will be interesting to see if progress will actually be made.

Strategies are only helpful is they are implemented. I hope that the current provincial government makes significant progress in acting on reducing GHG emissions to preserve our communities and way of life.

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