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BC needs a climate citizens' assembly: Washbrook

Voters Taking Action Against Climate Change (VTACC) spokesperson Kevin Washbrook says the new government should create a citizens' assembly to direct climate policies for the province.

He says it could work like the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, which is comprised of one woman and one man from each electoral district who were picked randomly from a draw.

"They would spend some time getting a sense of what the problem to people like Mark Jaccard and energy economists, and hear the options and how they work...and come out with a set of recommendations and principals to guide climate policy," Washbrook said.

He agreed that we already know what changes would reduce carbon emissions; mass transportation, denser communities, and more efficient buildings to name a few.

"The scale of changes we need to make are so huge no government is going to have the guts to do it," Washbrook said.

"No government has the guts right now to say...we're all going to be living in smaller houses, we're going to be driving less and taking the bus more. We as a society need to discuss those trade-offs."

Should the NDP gain a majority, added Washbrook, "I would really encourage them to not axe the carbon tax, to give it over the public and get some feedback."

NDP environment critic Shane Simpson said climate change policy is "too broad" an issue to address effectively with a citizens' assembly, and said a legislative assembly on climate change was a better way to inform policy.

"[Citizens' assembly] is a good way to deal with very specific questions," Simpson said. Like whether to keep the carbon tax?

"I think to discuss the carbon tax...exclusive of a broad discussion of climate policy doesn't make much sense," he said.

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