B.C. un­veils cli­mate plan

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Amy SMART

VAN­COU­VER — The Bri­tish Columbia gov­ern­ment has in­tro­duced a strat­egy to shift away from fos­sil fu­els and build the pro­vin­cial econ­omy around re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions, but also leaves por­tions of the plan to be de­ter­mined.

Premier John Hor­gan said Wed­nes­day the plan called CleanBC will rely on cut­ting emis­sions from build­ings, in­dus­tries, ve­hi­cles and or­ganic waste, while boost­ing the car­bon tax and the pro­duc­tion of clean hy­dro­elec­tric­ity.

The plan will move the prov­ince to a low-car­bon fu­ture, said Hor­gan, who in­tro­duced the plan with Green Leader An­drew Weaver.

“We want to make shifts: shifts in our homes, shifts in our ve­hi­cles, shifts in our in­dus­try to move away from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els and to­wards a cleaner, greener ap­proach us­ing Bri­tish Columbia’s abun­dant elec­tric­ity and other abun­dant op­por­tu­ni­ties that are now emerg­ing and will emerge into the fu­ture,” Hor­gan said.

The cli­mate-change plan will re­quire all new build­ings to be net­zero en­ergy ready by 2032, mean­ing they would need to gen­er­ate on-site en­ergy to power their own func­tion. The gov­ern­ment says new build­ings will be 80 per cent more ef­fi­cient by then com­pared with homes built now.

The plan also in­cludes di­vert­ing 95 per cent of or­ganic waste from land­fills and con­vert­ing it to other prod­ucts.

By 2030, 30 per cent of all sales of new light-duty cars and trucks are ex­pected to be zero-emis­sion ve­hi­cles, ris­ing to 100 per cent by 2040.

The plan also in­cludes phas­ing in more re­new­able fu­els to con­sumer gas prod­ucts by ramp­ing up new pro­duc­tion of 650 mil­lion litres of re­new­able gaso­line and diesel by 2030 and in­creas­ing the low car­bon fuel stan­dard by 20 per cent. That means gas at the pump could in­clude a mix of bio­fu­els and other cleaner fuel prod­ucts, one of­fi­cial said.

Hor­gan said the chal­lenges of cli­mate change mean peo­ple must move away from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els.

“Ev­ery year, we’re see­ing the un­prece­dented wild­fires and floods that hurt so many peo­ple, com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses,” he said in a state­ment. “We need to be­gin chang­ing how we live, work and com­mute to put B.C. on a cleaner, more sus­tain­able path.”

The cost of the plan will be out­lined in next year’s bud­get, Hor­gan said, and of­fi­cials said it will be fully funded.

The gov­ern­ment has said the cli­mate plan will be de­signed to meet leg­is­lated tar­gets, cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050. Over­all, the plan aims to re­duce B.C.’s de­pen­dency on fos­sil fu­els by more than 20 per cent and in­crease its de­pen­dence on clean en­ergy by 60 per cent by 2050.

When LNG Canada said in Oc­to­ber it was pro­ceed­ing with its plan to op­er­ate a $40 bil­lion ex­port ter­mi­nal at Kiti­mat, Hor­gan said the gov­ern­ment would still meet its green­house gas re­duc­tion tar­gets. The plan says one of the con­di­tions for liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas devel­op­ment is that it fits in the cli­mate com­mit­ments, not­ing that the LNG Canada project could add to 3.45 mega­tonnes of car­bon emis­sions to the prov­ince’s to­tal.

“More re­duc­tions from LNG’s cli­mate im­pact will be achieved through in­vest­ments in elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of up­stream oil and gas pro­duc­tion so ex­trac­tion and pro­cess­ing are pow­ered by elec­tric­ity, in­stead of burn­ing fos­sil fu­els,” it says.

Weaver’s party has an agree­ment that sup­ports the prov­ince’s mi­nor­ity NDP gov­ern­ment and he shared the stage with Hor­gan in mak­ing the an­nounce­ment.

“I look for­ward to work­ing with gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and other stake­hold­ers to ac­tion this plan, so that Bri­tish Columbians can count on a bright fu­ture where all our com­mu­ni­ties en­joy a thriv­ing econ­omy and a high qual­ity of life for gen­er­a­tions to come,” he said in a news re­lease.

Hor­gan’s gov­ern­ment al­ready boosted the car­bon tax in this year’s bud­get to $35 per tonne and will in­crease that by $5 a year un­til 2021. As the price rises, CleanBC will of­fer tax re­duc­tion in­cen­tives to fur­ther re­duce emis­sions, and a car­bon tax ex­emp­tion for any com­pany that proves it’s the clean­est in its sec­tor glob­ally.

The switch to cleaner en­ergy means in­creased bio­fuel con­sump­tion and a shift to hy­dro-gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity.

The gov­ern­ment’s plan says by 2030, its new poli­cies would re­quire an ad­di­tional 4,000 gi­gawatt-hours of elec­tric­ity over the cur­rent de­mand.

“This is equiv­a­lent to in­creas­ing BC Hy­dro’s cur­rent sys­tem-wide ca­pac­ity by about eight per cent, or about the de­mand of the city of Van­cou­ver,” the plan says.

The added de­mand up to 2030 can be met by ex­ist­ing and planned projects, how­ever, it will re­quire new en­ergy sources that could range from geo­ther­mal to wind power be­yond that date.

Au­di­tor gen­eral Carol Bell­ringer re­leased a re­port on Wed­nes­day that said Hy­dro’s gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties are run­ning at near ca­pac­ity and some of them are more than 85 years old. Her au­dit didn’t cover the $10.7 bil­lion Site C dam project, which is un­der con­struc­tion on the Peace River in north­east B.C. and not slated for com­ple­tion un­til 2024.

How the prov­ince will achieve one quar­ter of its emis­sion re­duc­tions is still un­clear. The gov­ern­ment says the ini­tia­tives laid out in the plan com­bine to re­duce the prov­ince’s emis­sions by 18.9 mega­tonnes, get­ting it 75 per cent of the way to­ward its 2030 tar­get of re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions by 40 per cent of 2007 lev­els.

Strate­gies for achiev­ing the re­main­ing 6.1 mega­tonnes in re­duc­tions will be iden­ti­fied within the next two years, of­fi­cials said.

Some en­vi­ron­men­tal groups backed parts of the plan but ques­tioned how the fu­ture liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try fits into it.

“It’s one of the most im­por­tant steps we’ve seen in years and yet we be­lieve it doesn’t quite go far enough,” said Caitlyn Ver­non of the Sierra Club BC. “We’re yet to be con­vinced how LNG and frack­ing will fit into this plan, how you square the cir­cle of in­creas­ing emis­sions on one hand while on the other hand work­ing to de­crease emis­sions.”

Ver­non said she’s look­ing for­ward to see­ing the com­plete plan be­yond 75 per cent. The speed of the plan’s com­mit­ments aren’t fast enough to meet what the sci­ence says is re­quired to pre­vent ex­ces­sive wild­fires and other cli­mate change ef­fects, she added.

The B.C. Busi­ness Coun­cil said CleanBC be­gins to po­si­tion the prov­ince and its busi­nesses as a sup­plier of choice for in­ter­na­tional mar­kets seek­ing lower-car­bon in­ten­sive en­ergy and com­modi­ties.

It also said there’s a need for greater un­der­stand­ing of the plan’s cost im­pli­ca­tions for both em­ploy­ers and in­di­vid­u­als, but the coun­cil will work with the gov­ern­ment to en­sure pol­icy so­lu­tions meet eco­nomic re­al­i­ties.

“By lev­er­ag­ing our low-car­bon as­sets, in­clud­ing re­new­able hy­dro elec­tric­ity, Bri­tish Columbia can play an out­sized role in re­duc­ing global cli­mate im­pacts in high­e­mis­sion ju­ris­dic­tions, while build­ing a com­pet­i­tive and in­no­va­tive econ­omy for Bri­tish Columbians and re­duc­ing emis­sions here at home,” pres­i­dent and CEO Greg D’Avi­gnon said.

CP PHOTO

B.C. Premier John Hor­gan speaks dur­ing an an­nounce­ment in Van­cou­ver on Wed­nes­day about the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s CleanBC plan aimed at re­duc­ing pol­lu­tion.

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