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Vancouver sets nation-leading goals to combat climate change

The Vancouver city council passed a resolution that sets more aggressive emissions reduction targets than most other U.S. cities.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — City leaders in Vancouver have been working on climate change plans for quite a while, and this week they unanimously approved a resolution that sets a goal to make the city carbon-neutral by 2040.

Tamping down carbon emissions presents a major challenge, but Vancouver is looking to make the change faster than nearly every other larger city in the country.

"We have set some of the most ambitious climate goals in the country, we are ahead of Seattle and Portland," said Rebecca Small, senior policy analyst for the City of Vancouver, who worked on the city's climate plan.

Those ambitious goals include an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations by 2025, an 80% reduction by the Vancouver community by 2030 and finally carbon neutrality by both the city and its residents by 2040.

Only Denver, Colorado has set equally ambitious goals. 

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The plan to do all this in Vancouver is evolving, but for starters it means getting away from carbon-based fuels for the city's large fleet of vehicles.

It also means switching to renewable power for the city's buildings, not only by buying it from suppliers, but also by bringing renewable power onsite.

"For example, we’ve just put in a grant to install solar panels on top of City Hall that can offset 5% to 10% of the energy we use in the building," Small said.

Another big part of the plan is planting more trees across Vancouver that cool neighborhoods and offset the carbon footprint, especially in areas that have borne the worst effects of climate change.

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KGW talked to a few folks on Vancouver’s Main Street who approve, including resident Adam Sullivan.

"(I'm a) five-year resident, and part of what brought me to the area is something like that, so we’re a growing urban area and forward-thinking in that regard is something that drew me here and will keep me here," said Sullivan.

In terms of slowing climate change, there is a lot more to come in terms of solutions. But the goals are set, and Small said, and the city will be ready to meet them.

"We are going to be looking constantly along the way how can make these stronger, what kinds of new technologies have come out that we can adopt that will help is to meet our targets," she said. "We are excited to be at the forefront of this challenge, we think this is the challenge of our lifetimes."

Part of the next phase for the climate action plan is to hear more from community members. Residents can learn more here and take an online survey as well.

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