Vancouver Becomes First City in Canada to Require Zero Emission Office and Retail Buildings

May 18, 2022

VANCOUVER, CA — On Tuesday, May 17, the Vancouver City Council passed a motion to set carbon pollution limits on the city’s largest office and retail buildings, while setting out a roadmap to transition many more commercial and multifamily buildings to entirely renewable energy as part of its Climate Emergency Action Plan. This makes Vancouver the first municipality in Canada to set limits on climate pollution from existing buildings, following the lead of cities like Seattle and Boston.

Most significantly, today’s motion included a requirement for large commercial buildings to get to zero emissions by 2040.

“This is a historic motion for the city of Vancouver, but for it to have its full impact, it has to be just the first step. The good news is that when it comes to tackling the climate crisis, there are many difficult choices — but transitioning our buildings off fossil fuels isn’t one of them. We have good examples of how to make this work from cities like Seattle and Boston, and actions that we take to tackle climate pollution will also make our built environment healthier and more climate resilient.” – Campaigns Director Liz McDowell

Vancouver’s vote is a major milestone because it represents the ongoing momentum to protect cities from dangerous fossil fuels, and will continue to have cascading effects in other municipalities. This movement started in Berkeley in 2019, and has since spread to dozens of communities in the U.S. and Canada since then. This includes 54 cities and counties in California, as well as major cities like New York, Denver, Boston and Seattle. 

“Vancouver was the first municipality in English-speaking Canada to declare a climate emergency. And I am proud to see us continue to lead, as the first municipality in Canada to start tackling the climate pollution from existing buildings. With today’s motion, we are putting our words into action. As we move buildings off gas, we’ll see significant health and climate benefits, and we’ll be better prepared for future extreme heat events. We’ve seen momentum growing for these solutions around the world, and so we know what’s happening today will resonate far beyond our city.” – City of Vancouver Councillor Christine Boyle

SAFE Cities supports the work of these and other local and subnational government leaders and advocates with technical, policy, communications, and organizing assistance, and by creating opportunities for local climate and environmental leaders to connect and collaborate on creating policies to stop fossil fuel expansion and phase out fossil fuels. 

More about SAFE Cities:

SAFE Cities is a growing movement of neighbors, local groups, and elected officials phasing out fossil fuels and fast-tracking clean energy solutions to ensure a just transition. Already dozens of cities and counties across the US and Canada– and in more and more nations around the globe – have passed concrete policies to keep their communities SAFE from fossil fuels, build renewable energy infrastructure, and create good, long-term jobs.