WWF-Canada Blog:

City power: How cities are leading the way on climate change

As WWF Sweden’s Reinventing the City report notes,  in the next three decades, as the global population grows  and becomes ever more urban,  at least  $350 trillion will be spent on urban infrastructure. Will urban leaders seize this opportunity to  reduce the ecological impact of our cities?

Judging from the inspiring presentations at the EHCC conference, many cities are showing foresight that rivals or exceeds their national government’s leadership.

Here are some examples:

Our own Vancouver, the global Earth Hour Capital, is a model of  overall holistic approach to climate action , especially its’ Vancouver Transportation 2040 strategy, support for local food, and progressive neighbourhood energy plan.

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© Linda Nowlan, WWF-Canada

In  Oslo, Norway the world capital of electric cars,  the more than 5000 electric vehicles  on the road enjoy a host of  benefits: they park for free, charge for free, drive in bus lanes, and are exempt from road tolls. Oslo plans to increase the number of charging stations in the city, above its’ already impressive number of 700.

New Delhi, India ‘s Metro Rail system serves more than 2 million people every day and is being dramatically expanded. Some enterprising students have  dreamed up  an innovative way to harness wind energy produced by Metro trains in New Delhi.  The transit authority has already given the team the permission  for the first pilot turbine.

The city that brought you flower power is now turning to clean green power..  CleanPowerSF offers San Franciscans an alternative to the mostly fossil fuels, nuclear, and large hydropower offered by the state utility. By pooling its’ citizens’ purchasing power to buy electricity, SF plans to get all  its municipal energy needs from clean sources in the next 20 years .  The program will start as soon as next October, targeting areas of the city where polling shows greatest levels of resident support.

Uppsala, Sweden  buys annual polling data that quantifies trips by residents so planners can include the estimated long distance travel of its residents in its per capita greenhouse gas emission calculations. As the mayor said, “If you want a trip to Thailand each year , make sure you balance out your emissions by not  owning a car.” Uppsala’s CO2 reduction map, and its’ leadership on wind power are other Swedish innovations of note.

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© Linda Nowlan, WWF-Canada