100% Renewable Energy Tools for Local Governments


Climate change threats are spurring a global movement for communities to shift away from using fossil fuels. Local governments are committing to a 100% renewable energy by 2050 target as one way to comprehensively make that shift. An ELC report prepared for the British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association provides local governments with seven tools they can use to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.

“As BC’s electricity stream is already close to 100% renewable energy, the tools contained in this report largely focus on the sectors where BC municipalities can have the most immediate impact: the built environment and transportation,” says ELC supervising lawyer Deborah Curran.  

Municipalities can only act within statutory permissions set by the province. But through policies and bylaws regarding transportation and buildings, local governments have the ability to control much of the GHG emissions communities produce. The ELC report sets out how local governments in BC can take action to plan for reducing GHGs, increasing energy efficiency, and transitioning to renewable energy.

As part of a community’s plan to shift to renewable energy, local governments can develop sustainability checklists to evaluate proposed developments against their renewable energy goals. To encourage developments that provide amenities such as low GHG emission design, they can consider land use, density and zoning permits and incentives. Development permits could include a number of conditions related to conserving energy or water, reducing GHG emissions, supporting the Agricultural Land Reserve, and promoting attached housing. Municipalities could require new buildings to meet higher levels of energy efficiency, work with the province to create bus lanes, and encourage citizens to switch to electric vehicles by ensuring there are charging stations in public places and new developments.

“When responding to development proposals, local governments need to move towards making better connections between land use choices, where people work and our transportation systems. There should be a tight link between transportation, housing and work,” says Curran. It requires some fundamental changes to our built form in order to transition to renewable energy, and it will require continual attention to long-term visioning and retooling of existing infrastructure. Local governments can play a key role in this process.

Climate change threats are spurring a global movement for communities to shift away from using fossil fuels, and local governments are committing to a 100% renewable energy by 2050 target as one way to comprehensively make that shift. A new ELC report prepared for the British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association provides local governments with seven tools they can use to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.

“As BC’s electricity stream is already close to 100% renewable energy, the tools contained in this report largely focus on the sectors where BC municipalities can have the most immediate impact: the built environment and transportation,” says ELC supervising lawyer Deborah Curran.

As part of a community’s plan to shift to renewable energy, local governments can develop sustainability checklists to evaluate proposed developments against their renewable energy goals. To encourage developments that provide amenities such as low GHG emission design, they could consider land use, density and zoning permits and incentives. Development permits could include a number of conditions related to conserving energy or water, reducing GHG emissions, supporting the Agricultural Land Reserve, and to promote attached housing. Municipalities could require new buildings to meet higher levels of efficiency, work with the province to create bus lanes, and encourage citizens to switch to electric vehicles by ensuring there are charging stations in public places and new developments.