SFU Re­new­able Cities fo­rum tack­les task of push­ing pop­u­la­tion to green power

The Province - - NEWS - DER­RICK PEN­NER de­pen­ner@post­media.com

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.

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