In 2007, the BC government embarked on a major shift in direction with a welcome new focus on addressing climate change. Led by the Premier's office, the resulting Climate Action Plan included: a legislated greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target of 33% below 2007 levels by 2020, and 80% below by 2050; North America's first carbon tax; a plan to reduce and offset emissions in the public sector; an enhanced conservation and clean electricity mandate for BC Hydro; and, integration of GHG emissions into municipal Official Community Plans.
Some of those efforts have been controversial, and climate action has also been in conflict with provincial transportation and industrial policies. Nonetheless, BC's first steps on climate action were significant, and there are signs of progress — as of 2010, BC’s GHG emissions were down 4.5% from 2007 levels.
Six years later, climate change has fallen off the public policy radar. BC does not have a plan to meet its 2020 target, and current aspirations to substantially expand fracking and develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals in Northern BC will place the province’s GHG targets even further out of reach. Emissions from exported gas will also lead to higher emissions in Asia.
This is a terrible mistake. The impacts of climate change are now even more evident across the world in the form of extreme weather events, from flooding in some regions to wildfires and drought in others. BC is facing new cost pressures arising from the impact of climate change on private property and public infrastructure, and these come on top of the devastation in our forests wrought by the mountain pine beetle, also linked to warmer temperatures.
The window for action is closing rapidly. It is imperative that wealthy jurisdictions like BC renew their commitment to climate action and resume the leadership role that is missing in North America. Beyond leadership, there are many additional benefits to be gained in terms of new economic opportunities and green jobs, reductions in other forms of pollution, improved health and better quality of life.
We the undersigned call on all BC political parties running in the 2013 provincial election to recommit to the targets and timelines laid out in BC's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act. And we call upon each party to table a platform that demonstrates how they will meet those targets. We seek to encourage a "race to the top" where there is legitimate debate about how to reach those targets, but the targets themselves are not negotiable.
(To add your organization to this list, contact Marc Lee at marc [at] policyalternatives [dot] ca.)
Agentic Digital Media
BC Coalition of People With Disabilities
Better Environmentally Sound Transportation
BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre
BC Sustainable Energy Association
BC Teachers Federation
Bing Thom Architects
Burke Mountain Naturalists
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
City Green Solutions
Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada
Common Energy UBC
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union
Community Legal Assistance Society
Council of Canadians
David Suzuki Foundation
Design Centre for Sustainability
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators
Forest Ethics – Advocacy
Forest Ethics – Solutions
Gen Why Media
The Global Youth Education Network Society
Georgia Strait Alliance
HUB: Your Cycling Connection
Island Tides Newspaper
Living Oceans Society
Metro Vancouver Planning Coalition
New Way Community Society
People's Action for Threatened Habitats
Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada
RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) Trust
Red Door Energy Advisors
Rising Tide Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories
Salt Spring Island Climate Action Council Society
Sea to Sky Clean Air Society
Shark Truth Society
Sierra Club BC
Tanker Free BC
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Vancouver and District Labour Council
Vancouver Peak Oil Executive
Voters Taking Action on Climate Change
West Coast Environmental Law Association
West Coast LEAF
Zero Waste BC
This letter was sent to BC's four major political parties. The responses will be posted here as we receive them.
Green Party of BC
"The Green Party of BC commits to the 2007 legislation on greenhouse gas reduction and more. I have attached our climate change policy for your reference. We have policy specific to the mining of unconventional gas that will be passed prior to the election." Green Party Climate Change Policy (PDF)