How three cities are tackling the effects of climate change
December 2, 2016, 12:03 am TWN
PARIS -- Fighting climate change means different things in different cities, as this snapshot illustrates:
Environmentalism and tourism are intertwined in Vancouver, a city of 600,000 nestling between beautiful mountain peaks and the Pacific Ocean.
Since 2007, a swath of green measures has cut CO2 emissions from buildings by 20 percent, landfill by 23 percent and road trips by 27 percent. The city has a vastly-expanded network of bike paths and two new rail transit lines.
In 2015, Vancouver set a target of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The province's electricity supply is already 93 percent renewable, mostly hydro.
Like other port cities around the world, Vancouver is faced with rising seas and more destructive storms as a result of climate change, for which it intends to revamp storm-water systems and management.
Forestry and mining remain the province's major industries, but the city has made a big push to attract investment in less polluting sectors such as high-tech and film production.
A megapolis of 18 million people, Chongqing is a manufacturing hub for cars, motorcycles, steel, aluminum and many other heavy-industry goods.
Its citizens have gagged for decades on some of the foulest air in the world, made worse by a landscape of hill-lined basins that trap pollution.
Zhou Jie, a 28-year-old advertising industry worker, said she worries constantly about pollution and global warming.
The giant municipality — whose administrative area covers 30 million people — has an ambitious program to encourage lower-carbon practices.
A buy-back program launched in 2013 has taken tens of thousands of high-polluting vehicles off the road. High-sulfur coal and diesel are banned within city limits.
Chongqing wants non-fossil fuels to be 15 percent of its energy mix by 2020.
Beijing has promised China's world-leading carbon emissions will peak by "around 2030."
Despite improvements, sprawling Los Angeles still has some of the most polluted air in the United States.
But that status may change as California ramps up to enact among the most ambitious environmental policies in the world.
Last September, Governor Jerry Brown — who calls climate change "the existential threat of our time" — approved legislation requiring the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
The state also aims to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources — notably wind and solar energy — by 2030. Buildings are to become twice as energy efficient by the same date.
Three-quarters of all waste must be recycled by 2020.