(Updated) The world wants solutions to the many threats of climate change, and so dearly wants heroes to be real. But often things are not as simple as what is being claimed.
Climate change is a serious matter, and solutions need to be based on verifiable facts. The City of Vancouver is earning praise for its Greenest City aspirations and most recently, the Renewable City Strategy. Those efforts are praiseworthy.
But what would happen if some of the underlying data and actions did not justify the praise–or the at least the level of praise being granted–by a cheering chorus ranging from local media all the way to the Pope? Everyone who repeats and amplifies statements and claims has a responsibility to conduct due diligence to ensure the integrity of the message, lest they be exploited as agents of greenwashing.
While some policies and actions of the City of Vancouver certainly have the appearances of going the in the right direction, CityHallWatch is getting signs that in some cases, the underlying data does not match the achievements being claimed. And who is checking anyway?
Tonight, Vision Vancouver, the city’s ruling party, is organizing a fundraiser, entitled Town Hall with Andrea Reimer: Vancouver’s leadership on sustainability, efficiency and social equality.
“Intrepid researcher” Jon Petrie has being trying to get responses from Councillor Reimer since her presentation at Simon Fraser University on April 2, 2015 (the 37 seconds of Reimer’s words below are extracted starting at 44:00 from the full audio recording on the SFU website).
Petrie challenges some of Reimer’s oft-repeated statements that are central to Vancouver’s Greenest City aspirations. So far, there has been no response from her, and SFU has failed to respond as well.
If the “Reality” statements below are shown to be untrue, then CityHallWatch will publish a retraction and apologize to Andrea Reimer. If the “reality” statements are true then Reimer and Vision need to backtrack fast.
(1) Reimer: “We [Vancouver City] have been audited [re greenhouse gas numbers] externally over and over and over again …”
Reality: Vancouver’s greenhouse gas numbers have never been audited externally. As far as we know, no city that has undertaken an external audit of its community scale emissions figures.
To turn this into a question: Has Vancouver ever been audited for its greenhouse gas emissions? (Yes/no. If yes, by whom and where is that audit available?)
(2) Reimer speaking of the constituent parts of Vancouver’s stated CO2e emissions: “The airport in Richmond is not included but the airport in Vancouver is.” [Andrea Reimer here is asserting Vancouver’s float plane airport in Burrard Inlet is included in Vancouver’s CO2e numbers and also, presumably, emissions by planes flying from that airport.]
Reality: Vancouver calculates its emissions based on a jurisdictional boundary, not a geographical one, and sees aviation as a federal jurisdiction.
To turn this into a question: Does Vancouver count emissions from aviation? (Yes/no. If yes, exactly what?) Is an airplane flying from the harbour float plane terminal in the harbour included in Vancouver’s CO2e numbers? (Yes/no.)
(3) Reimer: “The port is within the borders of Vancouver and there is quite a few port facilities within the City of Vancouver. Those are included [in Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions].”
Reality: No port emissions are included in Vancouver’s CO2e emissions.
To turn this into a question: Are any port emissions included in Vancouver’s CO2e emissions? (Yes/no. If “yes” what emissions from the port, and what is the CO2e number in tonnes that is included.)
(4) Reimer: “There are two cement plants that are included that are in Vancouver and included.”
Reality: No cement is manufactured within Vancouver. Batch plants within Vancouver do mix cement with water and aggregate to make concrete. Batch plants produce trivial amounts of greenhouse gases compared to actual cement manufacture, a notorious emitter of CO2. The two largest point source CO2 emitters within the Metro Vancouver region (but outside the City of Vancouver) are Lehigh Hanson’s cement manufacturing plant in the municipality of Delta, south of Vancouver (727,000 tonnes of CO2 in a recent year) and La Farge’s cement plant in the municipality of Richmond (503,000 tonnes). Numbers here are from The Tyee interactive carbon map — no cement plants are shown within Vancouver city limits on that map, see http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/07/04/CarbonFootprint/
Question: Does Vancouver count CO2 emissions for cement used in the City? (Yes/no.)
WEB PAGE ADVERTISEMENT BY VISION VANCOUVER
Town Hall with Andrea Reimer: Vancouver’s leadership on sustainability, efficiency and social equality
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 | 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
SFU Wosk Centre for Dialogue – Lower Concourse | 580 W Hastings St
In the last six months alone, representatives from the City of Vancouver have participated in important conversations at the Vatican, the United Nations, and the White House – and now the world is truly coming together to take action in Paris to combat climate change and create a more sustainable and equitable society.
Building on the successes of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan and the City’s new commitment to 100% Renewable Energy by 2050, Vancouver’s leadership and innovation have helped to shape and inspire how other cities and governments around the world are taking action to create a more sustainable, and equitable society.
Join Councillor Andrea Reimer to discuss Vancouver’s leadership on sustainability, efficiency and social equality.
Joining Councillor Andrea Reimer with be Betsy Agar and David Isaac. Betsy Agar was a founding member of Renewable Cities, holds a Professional Engineers of Ontario license and a Masters in Environmental Science (McMaster). David Isaac (Wugadusk) is a Mi’kmaq originally from Listuguj, Quebec, and currently serves as the interim executive director for the Centre for Native Policy and Research and has most recently started two new companies: FirstTerra (Environmental Remediation) and W Dusk Group.