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NDP makes environmental pitch with green bond offer

The NDP is announcing plans for a $1-billion-a-year green bond this morning, but critics say it will take more than that to fight climate change and restore the party's environmental image.

“The purpose for this is to find a way to engage British Columbians in the fight against climate change,” the NDP's environment critic Shane Simpson said in an interview yesterday. It will also help the province transition to a green economy, he said. “It's going to be committed to green investment in British Columbia.”

The bonds will raise money from B.C. investors and pay a competitive interest rate, he said. The money will be used to provide loans for home and business retrofits, greening public infrastructure, improving public transportation and investing in green technology.

The bonds are a “pretty big piece” of the party's environmental platform, he said. “We'll be making additional announcements on the four or five core pieces of the plan as we flesh out the detail of each of those pieces and what that means.”

There will be further announcements on the NDP's transit plan, infrastructure spending and green technology fund, he said.

When premier Gordon Campbell rolled out his carbon tax last year, the David Suzuki Foundation's climate change specialist Ian Bruce was in the legislative buildings to talk about it. This morning he heard about the NDP's green bond idea on the radio news and was still getting the details.

“In general it sounds like a good idea,” he said. “It's a good step, but we're still yet to see a comprehensive climate change plan come from the NDP.”

If the party was serious about climate change, they'd support a carbon tax, he said. “One of the foundations for any climate change plan is putting a price on carbon emissions,” he said. “To date it has been a lot of misinformation [from the NDP], particularly on the B.C. carbon tax they've been focused on.”

Some 18 months ago the NDP announced they were consulting on developing a climate change plan. It's yet to be publicly presented, Bruce said. “We're hoping to see their plan in the coming few weeks.”

Simpson said the NDP's opposition to Campbell's “just for show” carbon tax, which would have had to be much, much larger to be affective, has not harmed the party politically.

“By the time we get to the election we will have laid out the other components of our plan and we'll be wedding those to our economic plan,” he said. “I think we'll see by the time we get to the election we will pretty much own the environmental issue again.

A longer version of this story appears today on The Tyee's main page here.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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