The University of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to partner together to advance both the City’s and UBC’s aggressive sustainability and climate action goals.

Mayor Gregor Robertson and UBC President Stephen Toope signed the agreement at Vancouver City Hall today, signaling the launch of a multi-year collaboration to advance common goals of sustainability, climate action and the development of a green economy.

“This partnership will have a real impact in helping us reach our goal of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020,” said Mayor Robertson. “Our collaboration will benefit residents of Vancouver and UBC’s community as we work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance livability. Leaders around the world are exploring new ideas for greener futures and we will all achieve more if we share our collective learning.”

“The University will bring its expertise to help Vancouver achieve its inspiring goal, while building knowledge by adapting the innovative principles and programs that have worked well at UBC to meet the needs of a world class urban centre,” said Prof. Toope.  “The competencies we create through this partnership will have broad and positive impacts far beyond municipal or community boundaries.”

One of the first initiatives to result from this partnership will be the Greenest City Action Team Scholars program.  UBC will provide grants for 10 eligible graduate students enrolled in UBC Masters or PhD programs to support the Greenest City 2020 Plan and its implementation.  Each student will work on one of 10 long-term goals of the Vancouver 2020 Greenest City Action Plan which include green economy/green jobs, greener communities and human health. Mayor Robertson brought together the Greenest City Action Team early in 2009 to develop a plan, including measurable targets, to make Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2020.

The Greenest City Action Team Scholars will begin their work with the City on May 17 prior to a public consultation in June on the actions and implementation for each of the Greenest City Action Plan goals.  Students will be responsible for specific research programs studying global best practices.

“University education is about more than just classroom learning,” said Greenest City Action Team Scholar Malcolm Shield. “Programs like the Greenest City Action Scholars help to evolve theory into practice, and create benefits not only for those of us directly involved, but for all current and future Vancouver residents.”

Also under today’s Memorandum of Understanding, the City of Vancouver will provide wood waste for UBC’s Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Project.  Trees and branches that fall in parks or on city streets, as well as other clean wood waste material, will now create energy by fuelling clean, renewable biomass-based heat and power for UBC’s Vancouver campus.

Both the City of Vancouver and UBC have set aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets that will be achieved primarily through waste reduction, energy conservation and alternative transportation initiatives.

UBC has set greenhouse gas emission targets beyond already-achieved Kyoto targets to:

  • reduce GHGs by an additional 33 per cent from 2007 levels by 2015
  • reduce GHGs to 67 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020
  • eliminate 100 per cent of GHGs by 2050

The City of Vancouver is on track to meet Kyoto targets, and to:

  • reduce community emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 (on track)
  • reduce community emissions by 33 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020
  • reduce community emissions by 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050

The City has already achieved a 33 per cent reduction in municipal operations emissions below 1990 levels and has committed to carbon-neutral municipal operations by 2012.


Scott Macrae
Executive Director, Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.2064