Saturday, October 31, 2020

Vancouver BC Climate Plan Deserves Consideration

The Climate Action Plan Task Force convenes for the first time next week on the 5th, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Vancouver, BC focuses on transportation

Our chapter has previously highlighted plans from Milwaukie and Beaverton. But these have still seemed less than adequate to the scope of the actual problem and magnitude of the emissions reductions we actually need to make.

So here's another plan that looks to be more assertive and closer to adequate to the real problem, Vancouver, BC's, Climate Emergency Plan. For starters, the accent is on "emergency." They also embed transportation emissions in a larger context of "individual health, community prosperity, and the wellbeing of our environment."

Right-priced parking

Road and decongestion pricing

In the subsection "How we Move," Vancouver looks to implement permit parking through the entire city and to employ differential pricing so that permits for fossil-fuel combustion engines are more expensive than permits for electric cars.

They also look to shift away from the gas tax and towards a road use pricing scheme that better aligns incentives for safety, pollution reduction, and use of road space.

The details of a program for a larger city like Vancouver will not necessarily be appropriate to our smaller city. 

But overall, the seriousness with which it engages the problem of transportation emissions is something to which we should pay closer attention. 

Electric cars alone won't save us. Electric cars won't by themselves be adopted quickly enough in a total transformation of the car fleet. We will still need to reduce driving, and fortunately this dovetails with goals on safety, on walking and biking, and on livability. But until we better align the true costs of driving with the out-of-pocket costs, people will prefer to drive. 

We have to employ pricing for durable change
via twitter

In a review of studies about shifting transportation, authors found that

"Soft" interventions reduced car use ~7%, according to metanalysis of 41 studies

And a consultant to Cherriots replied
It's hard to change behavior, esp. when swimming upstream against land use, policy & pricing.

While the immediate context of the conversation was not about climate, the underlying point about pricing and change also applies. 

A Climate Action Plan that focuses on carrots and soft interventions will not be effective enough. If we want to be successful, we will need to make harder interventions and to make some things we enjoy today considerably more difficult or more costly, if not impossible.

Too much on hazards and not enough on emissions

The project team has published a process flow chart, and it still looks like more lip service to emissions reduction than a substantial commitment. There's also no literature review, no formal place where the task force and project team looks at other plans to emulate or adapt.

It's a very good thing Councilor Andersen introduced the targets for emissions reduction. But the targets need to be centered much earlier in the process so that they actually structure the end work product and policies.

1 comment:

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The team did finally post a note about a literature review, asking Task Force members to read plans from
- Beaverton
- Milwaukie
- and the consultant's plan for Lincoln, Nebraska