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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Getting serious about sustainability : exploring the potential for one-planet living in Vancouver Moore, Jennie Lynn


One-planet living represents the per capita share of global ecosystem services that each person on Earth could use were humanity to live equitably within ecological carrying capacity. My research uses ecological footprint analysis to explore the potential for the City of Vancouver to achieve one-planet living. Specifically, I examine what reductions in per capita ecological footprint would be necessary, what policies or changes to management practices are available to the City to facilitate those reductions, and what one-planet living might “look like” if those policies and changes to urban management practices were implemented. I use 2006 data to conduct an integrated urban metabolism and ecological footprint assessment for the City in order to establish a baseline from which to estimate the necessary reductions in material and energy consumption. I develop lifestyle archetypes of societies living at a one-planet ecological footprint (both real and hypothetical) to inform estimates on how changes in diet, buildings, consumables and waste, transportation and water could achieve one-planet living in Vancouver. I also draw on examples from the international sustainable cities literature and interviews with City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver staff and elected representatives to develop policy proposals for reducing Vancouver’s ecological footprint. Getting to one-planet living in Vancouver requires at least a 58% reduction in the per capita ecological footprint with the greatest contributions coming from reducing food waste, red meat consumption, and virtually eliminating personal motor vehicle use (shifting instead to an 86% walk, cycle and transit mode share which the City already achieves in its Downtown). The City has and can continue to influence individual and corporate choices through zoning and permitting. However, citizens would have to accept lifestyle changes pertaining to food and personal consumption to achieve the one-planet living goal. Involvement by senior governments in reducing the ecological footprint is also required. It remains to be seen whether Vancouverites, or any population accustomed to modern consumer lifestyles, will voluntarily accept and implement the changes necessary to achieve equitable sustainability as articulated by one-planet living.

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