Evaluating development path changes using a novel climate action assessment framework in three municipalities in British Columbia, Canada

Journal Title
Environmental Science & Policy

To transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon economy, a series of local governments in British Columbia, Canada, are implementing climate action and innovation. This is largely in response to a need for societal changes in current development paths. However, there has been a lack of studies assessing the effectiveness of these actions and whether these municipalities are on track to meet their targets. This paper tests a newly developed assessment framework to evaluate local government actions and to better understand city-wide community development paths in three major cities in British Columbia—Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey. This assessment reveals notable progress in their transitions to sustainable pathways in areas such as agenda setting and strategy, plan formulation and implementation, and these sometimes result in transformative actions. Nonetheless, a gap between these actions and their performance reveals that local governments from this study are failing to properly address the current climate emergency. In particular, the municipalities lack processes for evaluating their progress in changing their current paths. This reduces their capacity to identify best practices to improve the effectiveness of climate actions and also hinders their ability to act on feedback and make adjustments to meet their stated goals and targets.