Green Beat columnist David Clements

GREEN BEAT: Five ‘big moves’ would allow Langley to lead boldly

COVID gives us time to reflect on how each of us can do better for the environment and our future

By David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times

I have shared Vancouver’s plan to become the world’s greenest city with my classes since 2011 – when Vancouver announced its goal to be the greenest.

It is now 2020 – the year Vancouver was targeting to be the world’s greenest.

How close did Vancouver come?

The Siemens/Economist Intelligence Unit says Vancouver is about #3.

The reality is that Vancouver has fallen short of its carbon emission targets.

Still, Vancouver aims to reach a 45-per-cent reduction in carbon emission by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2050 – carbon neutrality!

In November, the Township of Langley quietly adopted the same targets.

I say “quietly” because there was no ticker-tape parade, fireworks, or community-wide celebration.

Of course, we cannot fully celebrate because we are not there yet.

However, we have a plan.

RELATED: Township council mulls climate action costs

The plan presented by Langley staff on June 29,and available on the Township webpage, entails five “big moves:”

1. Sustainable transportation with more than 50 per cent of passenger trips not involving internal combustion vehicles.

2. New buildings constructed for zero emissions by 2030.

3. Retrofitting existing buildings to reduce emissions.

4. Township operations to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.

5. More resilient natural systems, utilizing more tree cover and rainwater capture.

As an environmental biologist, the fifth move really resonates with me.

Indeed, when you reduce carbon emissions, you end up with improved green spaces, less noise pollution, less air pollution, better buildings to live and work in, an easier place to get around, and much, much more!

Similar plans are being developed among the other municipalities that make up Greater Vancouver.

Langley climate action staff are currently fine-tuning the details on costs, estimated to be $130 annually per representative household for the next 10 years, with many of these costs likely offset by incentive programs.

Nearly 70 per cent of the costs are already part of existing programs, involving gains in efficiency, new technologies, and various other ways Langley is aiming to become a greener, more livable community.

Think about what you spend money on for your household… can you spare $130 a year to help Langley become one of the world’s greenest places to live?

READ MORE: Langley Township committee to look at urban forest

We have been forced to pause and reflect on how Langley is a special place to live during the COVID-19 that has kept many of us at home.

Maybe this quiet moment is also a good time to consider new ways of doing things.

COVID-19 has also taught us the bolder and earlier the action, the better…and that business as usual does not work.

The Township’s climate action plan unveils some exciting possibilities for Langley to lead boldly.

Your homework is to consider the five “big moves” and try to re-imagine our future.

– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University

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