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An Open Letter: BC Must Act Now to Confront Our Climate Emergency

A message to the province from Indigenous, environmental, labour and health groups representing over one million British Columbians.

BC Climate Emergency Campaign 29 Sep

The BC Climate Emergency Campaign is a joint initiative of about 20 organizations that share a belief that CleanBC requires a fundamental reboot and must be transformed into a climate emergency plan.

Dear Premier John Horgan and the Government of B.C.,

We write on behalf of diverse environmental, Indigenous, labour, health, business, local government, academic, youth and faith communities who collectively represent well over one million British Columbians.

We call on the B.C. government to recognize the urgency and alarm that people all over the province are feeling as the climate crisis directly impacts our communities and our health: deadly heat waves, wildfires, drought, floods, crop failure, fisheries collapse and costly evacuations and infrastructure damage. These climate-related impacts are unprecedented and intensifying. Indigenous peoples stand to be disproportionately impacted by climate events despite successfully taking care of the land since time immemorial.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a “code red” for humanity. The International Energy Agency has called on world governments to immediately stop investments in and approvals of new oil and gas projects. The provincial government’s CleanBC climate action plan is insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and will not keep British Columbians safe from the worst impacts of climate change.

We therefore urge the B.C. government to develop and implement a transformative climate emergency plan that recognizes interconnected climate, ecological and social crises; embeds equity, anti-racism and social justice at its core; and upholds Indigenous title and rights as well as treaty rights.

To implement the rapid systemic change that is required, we call on the provincial government to demonstrate the leadership necessary to confront the climate emergency, and immediately undertake the following 10 actions:

1. Set binding climate pollution targets based on science and justice.
Reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 7.5 per cent per year below 2007 levels. Set binding reduction targets of 15 per cent below 2007 levels by 2023; 30 per cent by 2025; 60 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040. Review and update targets regularly as climate science evolves.

2. Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero-emissions economy.
Invest two per cent of B.C.’s gross domestic product, which is $6 billion per year, to advance a zero-emissions economy and create tens of thousands of good jobs. Spend what it takes to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new economic institutions to get the job done. Ensure that the economic component of Aboriginal title is recognized through the sharing of benefits and revenues that result.

3. Rapidly wind down all fossil fuel production and use.
Immediately stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure including fracking, oil and gas pipelines, LNG and fossil fuel-derived hydrogen. Rapidly phase out and decommission all existing fossil fuel production and exports.

4. End fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay.
End all fossil fuel subsidies and financial incentives by 2022. Ensure that industries that profit from fossil fuel pollution pay their fair share of the resulting climate damage.

5. Leave no one behind.
Ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers, resource-dependent communities and Indigenous and remote communities impacted by fossil fuel production. It will be critical to collaborate in true partnership with Indigenous peoples in climate action. Prepare our communities for the impacts of the climate crisis to minimize human suffering and infrastructure damage. Support those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.

6. Protect and restore nature.
Protect 30 per cent of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030; support and invest in Indigenous-led conservation initiatives; restore natural ecosystems to enhance ecosystem functions and services, preserve biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, and improve human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts. Impose an immediate moratorium on the industrial logging of all old-growth forests which are critical carbon sinks.

7. Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems.
Incentivize carbon storage in soil, restore biodiversity and ensure food sovereignty and food security across the province. Increase consumption of plant-based foods and reduce food waste. Support Indigenous communities that wish to maintain traditional food systems and enhance their food security.

8. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation.
Invest in affordable, accessible and convenient public transit within and between all communities. Reallocate infrastructure funds from highway expansion to transit and active transportation (cycling, rolling and walking). Mandate zero emissions for all new light vehicles by 2027 and all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030.

9. Accelerate the transition to zero-emission buildings.
Ban new natural gas connections to all new and existing buildings by the end of 2022. Create a Crown corporation to mobilize the workforce to retrofit all existing buildings and eliminate fossil fuel heating by 2035, and to build new affordable zero-emissions buildings.

10. Track and report progress on these actions every year.
Embed all of these actions in legislation to ensure accountability, transparency and inclusion. Establish rolling five-year carbon budgets that decline over time towards zero emissions by 2040 or sooner.

Tackling the climate crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to generate new, vibrant economic and social wealth as we transform where our energy comes from and how it is used. It offers an opportunity to achieve energy security, ensure food security, develop more sustainable local economies and jobs, transform our buildings, redesign transportation, reduce pollution, improve human health and well-being, and enhance our quality of life. The transition from fossil fuels to a zero-emissions economy has clear benefits for people and natural ecosystems, and is an opportunity to create a more prosperous, just and equitable society.

Every person, every business, every industry and every government has a role to play as we co-ordinate individual and collective actions to create a thriving, resilient and regenerative society that respects its interdependence with healthy ecosystems and a safe climate. British Columbia is positioned to become a visionary world leader and demonstrate that innovative and rapid change is possible as we transition to a zero-emissions economy.

We urge you to seize these opportunities and demonstrate to British Columbians that our government is indeed a true climate leader by implementing the 10 climate emergency actions set out in this letter.

We must act now.


Signatories (by sector)

British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Summit
Gidimt’en Checkpoint
Union of BC Indian Chiefs

Brackendale Art Gallery
Canadian Media Producers Association
Claymates Ceramics Studio Inc.
Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice
Hummingbird Music Studio
Indian Summer Arts Society
Neworld Theatre
South Cariboo Arts and Culture Society
Spring Magazine
Women in Film and Television Vancouver

1st Knowledge Bank Ltd.
Audiopile Records
Barnacle Strategies Consulting
Bydand Wealth Management
Calmura Natural Walls Inc.
Climb On Equipment Ltd.
Crowned Vitta LLC
Curio Research Ltd.
Drinkfill Beverages Ltd.
Earnest Ice Cream
Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society
Goldilocks Goods
Harvey McKinnon Associates
Lush Cosmetics North America
OMC Inc.
Persephone Brewing Co.
Rain or Shine Ice Cream
Redroof Enterprizes
Renewal Funds
Salish Soils Inc.
Sea To Sky Cable Cam Inc.
Squamish ReBuild Society
Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery
Tegan McMartin Photography
Tree World Plant Care Products Inc.
Vedalia Biological Inc.
Viridian Energy Co-op
Visual Science

Alliance4Democracy (Sunshine Coast)
B.C. Hydro Ratepayers Association
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.
Council of Canadians (Campbell River chapter)
Council of Canadians (Comox Valley chapter )
Council of Canadians (Nelson chapter)
Council of Canadians (Terrace chapter)
Council of Canadians (Victoria chapter)
Courage Coalition
Food Stash Foundation
Friends of Tilbury Working Group
Global Peace Alliance B.C. Society
Kaslo Community Action Team
Language Partners B.C.
Out Here Ski & Board Club
Philosophers Anonymous
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
South Park Family School
Tree of Life Nature Playschool
UNBC Outdoors Club

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Health Association for Sustainability & Equity
Doctors for Planetary Health (West Coast)
Inner Light Healing Arts
Mental Health and Climate Change Alliance
Public Health Association of B.C.

Anglican Diocese of New Westminster
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
First Unitarian Church of Victoria
Holy Cross and Saint Patricks RC Parishes
Kairos (B.C.-Yukon region)
Naramata Community Church
North Shore Unitarian Church Environmental Action Team
Salt Spring Island Unitarian Fellowship
Squamish United Church
Vancouver Unitarians
Yasodhara Ashram Society

Douglas College Faculty Association
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators
North Island College Faculty Association
Public Service Alliance of Canada (B.C. region)
Worker Solidarity Network

Canadian Senior Cohousing Society
Pacific Park Place Housing Co-operative
Squamish Seniors Society
Suzuki Elders

Douglas Students’ Union
My Sea to Sky Youth Council
Quest Student Environmental Committee
Reel Youth
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Students for Mining Justice
Take a Stand: Youth for Conservation

Environment/Climate action
350 Vancouver
Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary
Alberni Climate Action
Alberni Valley Transition Town Society
Armstrong/Spallumcheen Climate Action
Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards
Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment
Babies for Climate Action (New Westminster)
Babies for Climate Action (Vancouver)
B.C. Climate Alliance
B.C. Nature
B.C. Sea Wolves
Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria
Bowen Island Conservancy
British Columbia Cycling Coalition
Burnaby Climate Hub
Burnaby Residents Against Kinder MorganExpansion
Canadian Freshwater Alliance
Chase Environmental Action Group
Chemainus Climate Solutions
Citizen’s Climate Lobby (Okanagan chapter)
Citizen’s Oil & Gas Council
Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Nelson-West Kootenay chapter)
Climate Action Now!
Climate Caucus
Climate Emergency Unit
Climate Justice Victoria
Concerned Citizens Bowen
Cowichan Valley Naturalists
Creatively United for the Planet
David Suzuki Foundation
Denman Island Climate Action Network
First Things First Okanagan
For Our Kids (North Shore)
For Our Kids (Sunshine Coast)
For Our Kids (Vancouver)
Force of Nature (North Shore Community Action Team)
Georgia Strait Alliance
Goal 12 Sustainable Consumption and Production Society
Green Teams of Canada
HUB Cycling
Lawyers For Climate Justice
Living Forest Institute Society
Living Oceans Society
Mount Work Coalition
My Sea to Sky
Nanaimo Climate Action Hub
North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club
Parents 4 Climate
Planetary Resilience Council of B.C.
Protect Our Winters Canada
Roots on the Roof
Saanich Eco Advocates
Salish Sea Renewable Energy Co-operative
Salt Spring Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society
Sea Smart
Shuswap Climate Action
Sierra Club B.C.
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
Squamish Climate Action Network
Squamish Environment Society
Squamish Food Policy Council
Sunshine Coast Conservation Association
Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society
Sustainability Action Group for the Environment
Synergia Institute
Transition Kamloops
Transition Salt Spring
Transition Sooke
Victoria Climate Hub
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Watershed Watch Salmon Society
West Coast Climate Action Network (WE-CAN)
West Coast Environmental Law Association
West Kootenay EcoSociety
Wilderness Committee
Yellow Point Ecological Society
Zero Waste B.C.

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