The British Columbia government today outlined how it will get most of the way to meeting its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets over the coming decades.
Premier John Horgan called the CleanBC plan a “great step forward” that would make life better for generations that follow.
“The challenges of climate change are clearly global, but the impacts are being observed right here,” he said, siting drought, forest fires and reduced salmon returns. “Working together co-operatively we’ve been able to find a way forward.”
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said the province’s work on climate change isn’t done, but the path is set. “I’m greatly encouraged by the spirit of hope and collaboration with which this plan was written,” said Weaver, a climate scientist. “We’re frankly at risk of losing a lot if we don’t stand up and deal with the problem before us.”
The province’s overall goal is a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2007 levels by 2030, with deeper cuts required by 2040 and 2050. The government put the goals into law earlier this year while repealing an earlier target for 2020 that it acknowledged the province would fail to meet.
More policies to come
Today’s plan is wide ranging and includes measures to help industry, transportation and communities reduce emissions. Together they will get the province 75 per cent of the way to its goal for 2030, with the remainder to be determined over the next 18 to 24 months.
It includes recently announced programs like the one that would require all new cars and light duty trucks sold in the province to be zero emission vehicles by 2040 and Efficiency B.C. which provides rebates to help people make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.
There are measures to require cleaner fuels, promote the electrification of industry and encourage carbon capture.
“CleanBC is about building a thriving economy that fights climate change and benefits all people today and into the future because that’s what British Columbians tell us they want,” Environment Minister George Heyman said.
The former BC Liberal government started to act on climate change, but in recent years lost their way, Heyman said, noting that emissions rose in four of the last five years. “Instead of turning away from the climate challenge we’re embracing it and we’re taking real action,” he said.
Heyman said coming legislation will require annual reporting on the success of the government’s programs, the amount of money it has spent on them, updated carbon emission projections and verification of reductions.
‘Actions... address serious threat’: Merran Smith
Merran Smith, the executive director of Clean Energy Canada and co-chair of the province’s Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council, said the plan sets a roadmap for reducing emissions while creating jobs and enhancing affordability.
“It’s about actions for climate change to address this serious threat,” Smith said. The plan is the result of input, collaboration and hard work from a diverse group of British Columbians.
Smith’s co-chair on the council is Marcia Smith, the senior vice-president of sustainability and external affairs for mining company Teck Resources Ltd. Validators quoted in government background material included representatives of environmental groups, the Business Council of B.C., labour and academia.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and Union of BC Indian Chiefs president Stewart Phillip were all also quoted supporting the plan.