Three Canadian Cities sign on to Net Zero Carbon Buildings declaration

Today, 3 Canadian mayors, alongside 16 mayors from around the world, representing 130 million urban citizens, committed to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from their cities by ensuring that new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030. By signing the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration, the leaders of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Tokyo, Tshwane & Washington D.C also pledged to ensure all buildings in the cities, old or new, will meet net-zero carbon standards by 2050.

Net Zero Carbon Buildings, C40, Montreal
Montreal joins Vancouver, Toronto, and cities around the world in signing the C40 Net Zero Carbon Buildings pledge. Photo by Daniel Baylis via Unsplash.

Net Zero Buildings use energy ultra-efficiently and meet any remaining energy needs from renewable sources. Such bold commitments, made ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, are essential steps in delivering on the highest goals of the Paris Agreement and keeping global temperature rise below 1.5℃.

Buildings in urban areas are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and typically account for over half of a total city’s emissions on average. In London, Los Angeles and Paris, buildings account for well over 70% of the cities’ overall emissions, creating an enormous opportunity for progress on bringing emissions down. Currently, half a million people die prematurely each year due to outdoor air pollution caused by energy used in buildings.

“We are excited to be signing the C40 Net Zero Carbon Emissions Declaration along with other major cities around the world. Vancouver’s Zero Emission Building Plan will not only reduce GHG emissions from new buildings by over 60% but is also driving our green economy with a 53% increase in green building jobs since 2010,” said Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson.

“Paris is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic buildings. As mayors of the world’s great cities we recognize our responsibility to ensure every building, whether historic or brand new, helps deliver a sustainable future for our citizens,” said Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40, Anne Hidalgo. “With this commitment cities are getting the job done, concretely delivering on the Paris Agreement and building better cities for generations to come. One more time, the future is taking place in cities.”

Delivering on the commitments made today will require a united effort, as city governments do not have direct control over all the buildings in a city. This commitment includes a pledge to work together with state and regional governments and the private sector to drive this transformation, and calls on national governments for equal action. This pledge from cities is part of the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Carbon Building Commitment for Businesses, Cities, States and Regions.

Specifically, cities making this commitment will:

  • Establish a roadmap for our commitment to reach net zero carbon buildings.
  • Develop a suite of supporting incentives and programmes.
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting our targets, and evaluate the feasibility of reporting on emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants).

Furthermore, 13 cities, including Copenhagen, Johannesburg, Montreal, Newburyport, Paris, Portland, San Jose, Santa Monica, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Tshwane and Vancouver commit to owning, occupying and developing only assets that are net-zero carbon by 2030. To achieve this, cities will:

  •  Evaluate the current energy demand and carbon emissions from their municipal buildings, and identify opportunities for reduction.
  • Establish a roadmap for their commitment to reach net zero carbon municipal buildings.
  • Report annually on progress towards meeting their targets, and evaluate the feasibility of including emissions beyond operational carbon (such as refrigerants).

Leading up to the Global Climate Action Summit, C40 urged cities to step up their climate action and ambition – today’s announcement is one of the city commitments under that initiative.

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