GTEC Board Chair Speaks to Vancouver City Hall - GTEC Green Technology Education Centre

Over the past several months GTEC, represented by Executive Assistant, Liana Uemoto, participated in a community consultation process about the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP). The plan originated in the City’s formal recognition of the climate emergency in the spring of 2019.

Participants in the consultation process received invitations to speak to City Council on the evening of November 5, 2020. On that evening Board Chair, Arden Henley spoke on behalf of GTEC. The presentation was well received and, in particular, evoked discussion about the impact of autonomous electric vehicles.

Arden’s comments were as follows:

Thank you for this exercise in participatory democracy and the extensive community consultation that preceded it.

GTEC urges councillors to vote for the Climate Emergency Action Plan and fund it without delay. The Plan is a further step toward making Vancouver’s climate plan a reality.

I am going to speak to three issues:

  • Lessons learned from COVID
  • Electrifying transportation
  • A vision of the world we need to create

Quite simply, the COVID crisis has taught us the costs of delay and the benefits of concerted government action.

About transportation:

  • the plan does focus on electrifying transportation – that’s a good thing
  • but technology has much more in store – AI mediated autonomous electric vehicles are on the way
  • 44 major companies from Samsung to Volvo are heavily investing in autonomous vehicles – let’s say by 2030, and this is a conservative estimate, autonomous vehicles will be widely in use
  • at the present, cars are parked 96% of the time – autonomous vehicles are seldom idle, so with the integration of autonomous electric vehicles, a huge amount of property, the over 25% of space in cities now taken up for parking comes available for uses such as affordable housing and vertical gardening
  • car sharing such as EVO and MODO and non-automotive vehicles such as electric scooters also have significant roles to play
  • charging stations everywhere support this transition
  • there are so many other benefits – fewer accidents, injuries and traffic deaths, not to speak of the time not having to drive makes available to people
  • autonomous, electric, on demand….and no more fossil fuels from internal combustion engines

Finally, vision: A key point in the journey to carbon neutrality is to have a vision of where we are headed. We are not trying to throw civilization back to an idealized past, to undermine prosperity or even create uncertainty. We are responding to a now immediate crisis and with it the imperative to build a harmonious, just, resilient and sustainable future.

On a good day I see the Vancouver of the future with many streets as community gardens, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways weaving their way through the city, a few automated electric vehicle corridors linking widely separated neighbourhoods, an expanded Skytrain system, food hubs in each neighbourhood, ‘packageless’ stores and cottage industries dotted throughout an increasingly treed urban landscape.

Neighbourhood Houses and Community Centres are the focus of a reviving community feeling and there is music, dance, poetry and visual arts happening everywhere.

Once again, the Green Technology Education Centre urges councillors to vote for the CEAP and fund it without delay. Thank you.