SFU Renewable Cities forum tackles task of pushing population to green power
In the future city, all new cars will be electric by 2025, at which point coalfired power will be disappearing as a source to recharge them in favour of renewables, including a lot of self-generated solar power, according to Australian forecaster Ray Wills.
And cities can play a big role in facilitating the shift through infrastructure planning, said Wills, one of the workshop leaders at the Renewable Cities forum being hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue.
Wills is a futurist, but argues his vision isn’t all that futuristic, but rather an extrapolation of a trend that is evolving more quickly than entrenched interests want to admit.
“I think it’s all about momentum, a mix of cultural change and demographics,” said Wills, managing director of the Perth-based Future Smart Strategies.
“By that I mean ‘Y Gen,’ ” Wills added, referring to the millennial generation, which already drives less, is more likely to use ride-hailing services such as Uber and is socially motivated to accept new technologies.
Representatives from 60 cities from around the world, along with utility firms and non-governmental organizations, are at the event to talk about how to get there and make the business case for renewable power in terms of innovation and opportunities.
The Renewable Cities initiative was formed in 2015 to promote a transition to the “low-carbon” economy at a time it still seemed ambitious to suggest a city could aim for a goal to use 100-per-cent renewable energy, as Vancouver committed in that year to be doing by 2050.
Whether they get there is another matter, but Michael Small, executive director of Renewable Cities, said it’s cities, in particular, that are in the vanguard of pushing the shift, with 30 municipalities across North America making pledges to get to 100 per cent “with more coming on-board every month.”
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said that the 2015 Paris accord on climate change was the key moment that brought a lot of cities together, but it didn’t make the challenge of implementing changes any easier.
“We’re at the leading edge (in Vancouver),” Robertson said, “but there are many cities right now stuck in difficult times, totally reliant on fossil fuels (and with) population and car growth off the charts.”
Robertson said no one should underestimate how difficult it’s going to be for those cities to make the shift.