British Columbia

Gregor Robertson applauds climate change deal, promises Vancouver will 'drive the pace'

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and B.C. Premier Christy Clark are applauding the climate change deal agreed to by 200 nations in Paris.

City hopes to be fully reliant on renewable energy by 2050

Gregor Robertson speaks about cities' roles in battling climate change with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Rio De Janerio Mayor Eduardo Paes. (Gregor Robertson/Twitter)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and B.C. Premier Christy Clark are applauding the climate change deal agreed to by 200 nations in Paris.

On Saturday, the first global pact to fight climate change was adopted at COP21.

It calls on the world to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution.

"So thankful that nations agreed to fight climate change/end the fossil fuel era," said Gregor Robertson in a Tweet shortly after the deal was struck. "We'll drive the pace in #Vancouver!"

Vancouver aims to become fully reliant on renewable energy by 2050, coupled with an 80 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Robertson met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Paris ahead of the talks, arguing that Canada has the opportunity to become a world leader on climate change and the green economy, something he describes as the biggest economic opportunity in the country's history.

Robertson spent much of this past year — his first since being re-elected for the third time — building on his and Vancouver's image as a leader for green city-building.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark also appears to want to steer the province in that direction as well.

Clark and B.C.'s environment minister, Mary Polak, have already said the province is ahead of the game when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of its carbon tax.

The deal now needs to be ratified by individual governments before taking effect in 2020, but it doesn't have any mechanism to punish countries that don't or can't contribute toward its emissions-reduction goals.

First tests

Environmental advocate, ForestEthics, which has an office in Vancouver, said in a release the deal will require Canada to move quickly.

"The first test for the Trudeau government will be whether the new assessment process for pipelines promised during the election includes a climate test that will limit warming to our new goal of 1.5 degrees maximum temperature rise," said Karen Mahon, an advocacy director for ForestEthics.

​In March 2016, more than 2,000 business and government leaders from 50 countries will come to Vancouver to attend Globe 2016 and discuss sustainable business practices.

Key signal

Organizers of the Vancouver conference say the Paris agreement will greatly impact the attitude of next year's event.

"The scope and scale of what's possible just got a whole lot bigger," said Mike Gerbis, CEO of GLOBE Series, in response to the COP21 pact.

"This agreement is the key signal that markets have been waiting for; it will help unlock the vast pools of capital we need to accelerate the energy shift and innovation needed to address this crisis," he added.


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