B.C. VIEWS: New climate targets to miss

B.C. has new greenhouse gas target, still no plan to reach it

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman has unveiled the NDP-Green government’s brave new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, without giving any real hint of how these will succeed where decades of previous targets have not.

The old targets from the Gordon Campbell government were based on 2007 emissions, announced as B.C. adopted Canada’s first significant carbon tax on fuels in 2008. They were a 33 per cent reduction by 2020, and a breath-taking 80 per cent by 2050.

Former premier Christy Clark acknowledged a couple of years ago that the first target wasn’t going to be met, as her government worked overtime to develop a liquefied natural gas export industry. Heyman formalized that in legislation presented last week.

The new target is a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, based on 2007 levels. The 2050 target of 80 per cent less carbon dioxide and equivalent gases remains, looking about as achievable now as it did when it was set a decade ago. To make it, barring some sort of technological miracle, much of B.C. will be back to using horses and buggies, if not depopulated.

Reporters had a brief hallway scrum with Heyman to ask about the strategy. I’ve been following this stuff since Canada signed on to the failed Kyoto Protocol in 1992, and the political soft-shoe dance hasn’t changed much.

Reporter: Aren’t these pretty ambitious targets, minister?

Heyman: “They are ambitious, and we’ll be detailing over the next months particular measures, whether it’s in transportation, whether it’s in energy savings, in buildings and homes, whether it’s reductions in emissions in industry, about how we propose to bring those down.

Reporter: What’s different now from 10 years ago?

Heyman: “We’re building a plan. We expect to work with all industries to see how we’re going to meet the reductions they need to make overall. What we certainly don’t want to do is disadvantage any industry in B.C.”

Reporter: Do these new targets take into account your latest incentives for LNG Canada?

Heyman: “We have to see how we can meet an overall industrial emission reduction target, and where any increase in certain industries would fit into that. Our government was very clear to the proponent that we’re setting targets and it all had to fit.”

Translation: Building a plan means there still isn’t one. Not disadvantaging B.C. industries is a fabrication. Powdered cement is already being imported from the U.S. and China.

So how far are we from reducing B.C. emissions by a third, as 2020 approaches? I wish I could tell you, but neither the federal or provincial government is very forthcoming with that information. The most recent data I could find from either source is from 2015, showing a modest reduction between 2005 and 2015.

The previous B.C. government provided some emission tracking data as the carbon tax started going up in small steps. It showed a big drop-off after 2008, which everyone except then-environment minister Terry Lake acknowledged was a result of a world-wide recession and financial crisis that ground investment and construction to a halt.

The B.C. economy was ticking along pretty well in 2007, lots of cars and trucks being bought, lots of construction and so on. Nothing like today, however, with population up substantially and concrete high-rise construction everywhere you look in major urban centres. Our gasoline prices are at record highs, and despite that I’m pretty sure our greenhouse gas emissions are too.

The only real plan so far is to keep raising taxes until emissions fall.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturecarbon taxClimate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mobile home west of Chase was levelled by fire on Jan. 27. (Pixabay Image)
Mobile home west of Chase burns to the ground

The house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived but no one was injured.

Top Jimmy’s Canoe Beach Café Water Sports is applying for what’s called a ‘food primary’ liquor licence for the fenced area in front of the lakeside Shuswap café. (File photo)
Owners of café at Shuswap’s Canoe Beach apply for liquor licence

Application is for a food-only licence which would allow drinks only inside fenced area by concession

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Sicamous man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

The first plan for the city from the new Visitor Services Strategy for Salmon Arm will be to move visitor services to city hall. (File photo)
Salmon Arm to move visitor services to city hall, considers tourism revamp

Consultant’s visitor services strategy points to need for recognition of tourism’s importance

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

A change to the drive thru sign at the Tim Hortons in Summerland came before Summerland council on Jan. 25. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council approves variance for drive-thru sign

Questions raised about why issue was brought to council table

Most Read