Vancouver is one of the greenest and most livable cities in the world. These two aspects cohere and are to become an even more central point on the city development agenda. Vancouver wants to make the 2010 Olympic Winter Games the games with the lowest level of carbon dioxide emissions ever by using clean, hydroelectric power.
Today, Vancouver is drawing 90% of its power from renewable energy sources, mainly from hydroelectric power and in the future, Vancouver will develop considerable capacities from wind, solar, wave and tidal energy. Thus, the city as well as the whole province British Columbia are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Though being one of North America’s most densely populated urban areas, Vancouver offers pleasant surroundings with many parks, a wide range of activities along the waterfront and in the surrounding nature parks and mountains and the beautiful landscape to its residents. Downtown Vancouver is, in contrast to many cities in North America, relatively free of highways and cars as the public transport works efficiently and many people live in close reach of their workplace.
Thus it is not surprising that the environmental organization Greenpeace was founded in Vancouver in 1971. Vancouver’s 600,000 inhabitants are mostly environmentally conscious and enjoy the high quality of life which their city offers and thus attracts many immigrants from around the world.
The city benefits from being located close to the mountains as hydroelectric generating stations povide 90% of the electricity by using falling water without emitting any greenhouse gases or polluting the air. However, British Columbia has to import electricity from neighboring Alberta and Washington. The imported electricity is of course not that green, mostly made from fossil fuels.
Despite all good will to make Vancouver and British Columbia even greener, environmentalists criticize that the government does not encourage the use of alternative energies sufficiently. Besides, oil and electricity prices are amongst the cheapest in the world. These low prices result from the low demand for fossil fuels in Vancouver, compared with other regions in the industrialized world which consume most fossil fuels for heating and energy production. Therefore, the prices for fossil fuels are higher in places where there is a high demand. Besides, the price of electricity generated from fossil fuels increases in line with the price of oil. In Vancouver, electricity prices have remained at a steady level as the costs of generating electricity have remained at the same level as years ago. This is quite interesting as people living in an area which consumes less oil than others can actually afford consuming more in contrast to those paying higher prices. But that’s how the market works! Instead of complaining about expensive gasoline, try consuming less.