VICTORIA — Today the Government of British Columbia released the report and recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team, which it established in May to provide expert advice on a new climate action plan for the province. Merran Smith, executive director at Clean Energy Canada, served on the Climate Leadership Team.
The Team’s recommendations chart an innovative path forward for B.C. to meet a new 2030 climate target en route to achieving its 2050 target, while maintaining a strong economy and protecting vulnerable industries and citizens. The recommendations were developed over seven months of intense research, deliberation and discussion by the team members, who brought a diversity of interests and perspectives into the process.
The recommendations were designed to be implemented as a package and, if adopted fully, would maintain B.C.’s status as a climate leader. They are also consistent with steps being taken by other leading Canadian provinces and American states, and would ensure B.C. keeps pace with other climate leaders.
Key recommendations from the Climate Leadership Team include:
An innovative new fiscal package which includes a plan to continue cutting carbon pollution by increasing and expanding B.C.’s carbon tax, while creating targeted support for emissions-intensive trade-exposed industries and vulnerable citizens. The package would also see a portion of the revenue used to reduce the provincial sales tax (PST), helping citizens and businesses adjust.
Setting a new legislated 2030 target to reduce carbon pollution by 40 per cent below 2007 levels, which would put B.C. on track to meet its 2050 target.
Other recommendations would increase energy efficiency requirements in the province’s building code, support the transition to electric vehicles, promote the shift to 100% clean electricity, reduce methane leakage in the gas fields, and encourage municipal and indigenous governments to undertake projects to cut carbon pollution.
If adopted, the proposed fiscal package would represent a breakthrough in B.C.’s efforts to maintain its status as a climate leader, taking advantage of the strongest tool the government has to cut carbon pollution — the carbon tax — while protecting trade-exposed industries and keeping British Columbia affordable.
“As a member of the Climate Leadership Team I can tell you that we wrestled with these issues for months: how can we reduce carbon pollution and protect the economy? We came up with a breakthrough approach that we know, if adopted by government, can renew B.C.’s climate leadership in a way that works for businesses and communities.”
“Shifting taxes so that we are taxing things we don’t want — like carbon pollution — while reducing other taxes like the PST is one of the best ways to cut carbon pollution. It builds on the experience and success that we’ve had to date in B.C.”
“The package also adds in a requirement to protect trade-exposed industries, which would help maintain B.C.’s competitiveness. This addresses concerns from the business community and should receive their support. Ultimately it’s a win for the environment and a win for the economy.”
“The Climate Leadership Team’s recommendations are consistent with actions that other provinces are now taking. They offer British Columbia’s government the tools it needs to reduce carbon pollution, grow the economy and renew its climate leadership. We are at a crossroads — we can continue to lead using these recommendations, or we can fall behind. The question now is: what road will the government choose?”
— Merran Smith, Executive Director of Clean Energy Canada
- On November 21 more than two dozen prominent academics challenged the Premier to take meaningful climate action.
- On November 23, 146 businesses, industry associations, unions, municipalities and environmental groups announced their support for climate action and the transition to a clean energy economy.
- All but one of the recommendations were endorsed by the full Climate Leadership Team — which includes 18 representatives from business, academia, communities, First Nations and the environmental sector.
- Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba all have committed recently to introduce or strengthen carbon prices as a tool to cut carbon pollution.
- The federal government has promised to work with provinces following the UN climate talks to develop a plan within 90 days to meet Canada’s 2030 target for emission reductions.
- The province has indicated it will begin public consultations on the next phase of climate action in January 2016.