NDP tar­gets green­house gas emis­sions

Premier Hor­gan im­plores every­one to buy into his plan of call­ing for 75% of 2030 goal

The Province - - NEWS - GOR­DON HOEK­STRA ghoek­[email protected]­media.com twit­ter.com/gor­don_hoek­stra

B.C. Premier John Hor­gan un­veiled de­tails Wed­nes­day of the NDP’s long-awaited plan to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions, call­ing for ag­gres­sive re­duc­tions tar­geted at in­dus­try, trans­porta­tion and hous­ing.

The re­duc­tion es­ti­mates out­lined would bring the prov­ince 75 per cent of the way to meet­ing its 2030 tar­get. The re­main­ing 25 per cent of the re­duc­tions are to be rolled out in the next 18 to 24 months.

The prov­ince will en­act reg­u­la­tions to drive the re­duc­tions — in­clud­ing copy­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s 45 per cent meth­ane emis­sion re­duc­tion — and come up in­cen­tives.

The costs of the cli­mate plan, which in­cludes con­tin­u­ing re­bates to low-in­come earn­ers, as much as $135 an­nu­ally to adults, will be out­lined in next year’s bud­get nor­mally de­liv­ered in Fe­bru­ary.

Bri­tish Columbia has an­nounced its plan to fight cli­mate change while it ac­com­mo­dates the car­bon pol­lut­ing liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try.

The plan in­cludes pre­vi­ously an­nounced in­creases to the car­bon tax, which is $35 a tonne of car­bon and will rise to $50 a tonne by 2021. The car­bon tax adds costs to a tank of gas and can trickle down in in­creased costs of con­sumer goods. How the plan might ef­fect the cost of B.C. house­holds in other ways is not yet clear.

Hor­gan pointed to the back-to-back wild­fire sea­sons that rav­aged Bri­tish Columbia as a symp­tom of cli­mate change that pointed to a need for ac­tion.

“Bri­tish Columbia is chang­ing — this spe­cial place we de­pend on, we call home. What steps can we take to­gether to make sure those changes are not dev­as­tat­ing but in fact can be man­aged and we can adapt?,” said Hor­gan, im­plor­ing every­one to buy into the plan.

“(This plan) will lower green­house-gas emis­sions, re­duce cli­mate pol­lu­tion and move our prov­ince and our econ­omy to a low car­bon fu­ture where there will be more jobs and more op­por­tu­nity for all Bri­tish Columbians,” he said.

There is enough “clean” elec­tric­ity avail­able un­til after 2030 to feed the plan but then more sources would be needed.

Putting for­ward a bold car­bon-re­duc­tion plan was nec­es­sary for the NDP to sat­isfy the Green party, which pro­vided sup­port to put Hor­gan’s mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment in power after 16 years of B.C. Lib­eral rule.

“This is about send­ing a sig­nal to the broad mar­ket in Bri­tish Columbia, to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, that B.C. is go­ing to rise to the chal­lenge. We wel­come busi­ness in B.C. but that busi­ness will be clean busi­ness,” said Green party Leader An­drew Weaver, a for­mer Univer­sity of Vic­to­ria cli­mate sci­en­tist.

B.C.’s new green­house-gas-emis­sion tar­get calls for a 40-per-cent re­duc­tion by 2030 over 2007 lev­els, a de­crease of 25.4 mil­lion tonnes of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lents. The lat­est B.C. num­bers, from 2015, put emis­sions at 63.3 mil­lion tonnes, a lit­tle less if car­bon off­sets are in­cluded.

The largest chunk of re­duc­tions un­veiled Wed­nes­day are tar­geted at in­dus­try, in­clud­ing elec­tri­fy­ing ex­trac­tion and pro­duc­tion of the nat­u­ral gas and oil sec­tor in north­east B.C., which ac­counts for 20 per cent of meth­ane emis­sions.

The nat­u­ral gas ex­trac­tion and pro­duc­tion sec­tor largely uses nat­u­ral gas to power plants and pipe­lines. They will be able to switch to clean elec­tric­ity with the ex­ten­sion of trans­mis­sion lines, for which the B.C. gov­ern­ment ex­pects the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to con­trib­ute.

The B.C. gov­ern­ment will pro­vide about $240 mil­lion a year in in­cen­tives — through re­bates to in­dus­tries with low car­bon in­ten­sity and a fund to which in­dus­try can ap­ply to for pro­jects to lower car­bon emis­sions.

In the hous­ing sec­tor, Hor­gan’s gov­ern­ment wants to see retrofits to ex­ist­ing hous­ing, both pub­lic and pri­vate, in­clud­ing through in­cen­tives such as for heat pumps. By 2032, all new build­ings must be net-zero en­ergy, mean­ing they pro­duce the power they need, per­haps through tech­nolo­gies such as so­lar pan­els and ex­tract­ing heat from waste wa­ter.

The plan also in­cludes a re­cently an­nounced re­quire­ment that by 2040 all new ve­hi­cles will be zero-emis­sion.

The idea is to push the change through in­cen­tives, such as re­bates to buy elec­tric ve­hi­cles and in­stall more charg­ing sta­tions in the prov­ince. The prov­ince also will in­crease the low-car­bon fuel stan­dard to 20 per cent by 2030, the same as Cal­i­for­nia.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups were pleased with the plan.

The Wilder­ness Com­mit­tee said it was op­ti­mistic B.C.’s new cli­mate plan will put the prov­ince on track to meet its emis­sions tar­gets while lay­ing the ground­work for in­creased am­bi­tion on cli­mate ac­tion.

“It’s taken al­most a year, but the Green-sup­ported NDP gov­ern­ment has started to head in the right di­rec­tion,” cli­mate cam­paigner Peter Mc­Cart­ney said.

Greg D’Avi­gnon, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Busi­ness Coun­cil of B.C., said the tools within the plan sup­port a low-car­bon in­dus­trial strat­egy and po­si­tion B.C. busi­nesses and the prov­ince to be a sup­plier of choice for in­ter­na­tional mar­kets seek­ing lower-car­bon in­ten­sive en­ergy, com­modi­ties and other in­puts for their ex­pand­ing economies.

How­ever, the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Pe­tro­leum Pro­duc­ers had con­cerns, with spokesman Ge­off Mor­ri­son say­ing it is im­por­tant for the in­dus­try to stay glob­ally com­pet­i­tive, par­tic­u­larly when nat­u­ral gas and oil prices are de­pressed.

— EN­CANA COR­PO­RA­TION FILES

Horn River wells, from which shale gas is ex­tracted, are seen here in north­east­ern B.C. The nat­u­ral gas and oil in­dus­tries will be af­fected by pro­vi­sions be­ing put for­ward in the prov­ince’s plan to re­duce green­house gases.

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