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Job loss expected from NDP climate plan: study

A new study suggests the B.C. New Democratic Party’s climate change policies could result in significant job losses in the province.

The NDP’s commitment to a 33 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while relying on hard industry caps could mean 60,000 direct and indirect job losses by 2020, according to the study released yesterday by Simon Fraser University professor and sustainable energy policy expert Mark Jaccard.

Using a model known as the Canadian Integrated Modeling System, which evaluates the effectiveness and impact of climate change policies, Jaccard said the results revealed the NDP’s proposals to meet targets will drive up industry costs and result in high levels of layoffs.

“The cap on industry has to get tighter and tighter and the permit prices go really, really high,” he told The Hook. “That means that industries in British Columbia will have to shut down.”

NDP environment critic Shane Simpson dismissed the study, according to The Province, questioning Jaccard’s objectivity.

“He has been a critic of ours (the NDP) and I don’t believe Mr. Jaccard has an independent view on this,” Simpson reportedly said.

Jaccard, who has been a climate adviser to Premier Gordon Campbell, defended the impartiality of the research to The Hook and said he has also been critical of the B.C. Liberal Party’s policies in the past.

The New Democrats’ proposal to get rid of the Liberal’s carbon tax, which was recommitted in their recently released platform, continues to receive criticism from environmental groups.

“The NDP's platform puts climate change on the shelf to be addressed in the future, rather than building on steps already taken,” said Matt Horne, BC energy solutions director for the Pembina Institute in a statement.

“The carbon tax is already showing results.”

But NDP leader Carole James said at Thursday’s platform release that the tax is not working.

“The fuel tax isn’t effective. Fuel use actually went up last year,” she said.

While the carbon tax has received a lot of attention, George Heyman, executive director for the Sierra Club BC, cautioned against only focussing on one method for dealing with climate change.

“We need to look at the whole package,” he said, adding that there were a number of positive measures announced in the NDP platform.

“The hard emissions cap for industry is very important,” he told The Hook. “That is going to definitely bring down emissions.”

Heyman also applauded the promised lowering of transit fares and the ending of routine gas flaring by industry, which burns off unwanted gas.

The Liberals have not yet released their full election platform and Heyman said it is important for voters to look at all the environmental policies put forward by the parties.

“I think it’s important to look at their overall environmental record and their overall environmental platform,” he said.

“Many actions taken over the past eight years have run counter to many of the goals of environmental groups.”

Other environmental initiatives announced in the NDP platform include:

More funding for enforcement of environmental protections and regulations

Continued moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling

Pesticide ban for residential and cosmetic use

Low-interest loans to retrofit homes and businesses

Green Bond program to provide safe investment returns for green infrastructure and technology

Moratorium on new private power projects until a review of supply and demand is completed

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook.

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