CityAge Vancouver:
Decarbonizing Urban Environments

February 12, 2024

Over 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from urban centres. This presents an enormous challenge as we seek to transition to a global net zero economy. However, it also presents amazing opportunities for cleantech innovators working on net zero solutions. 

On February 6, Foresight Canada attended CityAge Vancouver: The Urban Zero Challenge to meet with leaders and innovators from across the region to address a growing need: decarbonizing our urban environments. 

Vancouver, like every major city in Canada, is facing an enormous challenge—achieving net zero while meeting the housing and transportation needs of a population that is seeing record growth. It’s not an easy problem to tackle, but the CityAge event was a great opportunity to discuss the solutions that will help us achieve our climate targets. And there are so many solutions being developed and deployed that will help us decarbonize our cities. AI, carbon sequestration, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, mass timber buildings, green infrastructure, zero-emission buildings, and high speed rail are all being examined to bring down the carbon footprint of our urban centres. 

A Plan for the Future

One thing became clear from the discussions over the course of the day: we need a bold, decisive, and equitable plan in place to move at the necessary pace to achieve our emissions targets. But there are barriers in our way:

  1. Uncertainty regarding decision makers: Currently, there is significant misalignment on who ultimately makes the decisions to develop these projects. Industry members, including developers, need clarity on which level of government is responsible for giving the green light, and the longer we go without that clarity, the longer we will delay investments into these critical technologies.
  2. Lack of communication: Collaboration with our neighbours will also be key to our success. Both Vancouver and Victoria have strategic plans that aim to transition our transportation sectors to operate on 100 per cent renewable resources by 2050, but currently lack effective tools and channels to share valuable information. We must be able to share best practices and learnings as we move forward with strategies that will help us decarbonize critical sectors. 
  3. Slow pace: Municipalities across the country are trying to overcome the hurdles associated with implementing sustainable net zero solutions, but are struggling to move at the pace necessary. 

Canada needs a clear plan in place if we want to achieve our emissions targets. Luckily, Foresight has one: The Cleantech Adoption Platform. Our CEO, Jeanette Jackson, proudly announced our new initiative at CityAge. 

What is the Cleantech Adoption Platform? 

In 2023, Foresight Canada conducted roundtable discussions with municipalities across the country about climate action. Despite the fact that more than 660 Canadian municipalities have declared climate emergencies, municipalities have been very slow to adopt cleantech solutions for a variety of factors including budget constraints, staff capacity, risk aversion, lack of supportive policy, and cultures resistant to change.

In response to those findings, Foresight has launched the Cleantech Adoption Platform—a municipal capacity-building program that uses an integrated approach to remove and lower barriers faced by municipalities in achieving climate and sustainability targets, in particular around the adoption of clean technology solutions.

The Cleantech Adoption Platform will provide Canadian cleantech innovators and industry members with sustainable solutions a centralized location to connect with municipalities who are seeking ready-made cleantech solutions that will enable them to meet their net zero targets. The Platform will also provide municipal leaders with education and training, and a database of information that can inform the decision making process for net zero program managers.

A Streamlined Platform for a Sustainable Future

The Platform will address several of the key challenges facing Canadian municipalities, and offer the following:

  • Training and development for key municipal staff supporting the integration and assessment of sustainability metrics in procurement processes
  • Education and support in accessing regional, provincial, and federal programs to support net zero and sustainability initiatives
  • Regional buyer groups and cooperative procurement processes to enable economies of scale and increase efficiencies in procurement
  • Convening and networking opportunities for Canadian municipalities to share successes and learnings
  • A directory of ready-to-deploy Canadian clean technology solutions to de-risk selection and purchasing
  • Strategic partnerships between organizations leading advocacy efforts across various levels of government to enable municipal climate and sustainability action

The Cleantech Adoption Platform will streamline the process of connecting buyers to vetted solutions, and leverage Innovation Challenges to source new solutions to address unmet needs.

Facilitating Adoption and Demonstrating Results

The Platform will also implement the tracking of sustainability metrics and produce reports to circumvent greenwashing and ensure transparency on targets, milestones, and the impact from projects. As solutions are implemented, we have the opportunity to demonstrate Canadian-made clean technology, and share results with the rest of the network to facilitate cleantech adoption and the coordination of buying opportunities.

The barriers to achieving Canada’s net zero and sustainability goals are numerous and complex. But the cost of not acting on climate change is enormous economically, not to mention the significant challenges to the health and welfare of Canadians. 

The Cleantech Adoption Platform will streamline the process of cleantech deployment, while driving Canadian municipalities toward net zero. 

Decarbonizing our urban environments will be key in the transition to net zero. Canada has a deep pool of talented innovators with amazing solutions to draw from to help us get there. With the right tools in place, clarity and direction, and a collaborative approach we can bring about a future that is clean and prosperous for us all. 

Learn more about Foresight’s Cleantech Adoption Platform: