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BC government unveils climate plan

The government of British Columbia recently unveiled its Climate Leadership Plan, targeting the reduction of net annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 million tonnes below current forecasts by 2050 and the creation of up to 66,000 jobs over the next ten years. BC’s target is to reduce 2050 emissions 80% below 2007 levels.

The plan’s initial 21 action items include making electric vehicles more affordable and boosting the Low Carbon Fuel Standard from 10% to 15%. Government is also targeting making buildings more efficient, sequestration opportunities in forests and emission reductions in natural gas production and processing.

The Climate Leadership Plan will be further updated over the coming year, in response to work underway between the federal government and the provinces and territories to develop a pan-Canadian approach to climate action. That work, under the Vancouver Declaration announced in March, covers four different areas of climate action including:

  • Clean technology, innovation, and jobs;
  • Specific mitigation opportunities;
  • Adaptation and climate resilience; and
  • Carbon pricing mechanisms.

The BC Government will establish periodic progress reviews on meeting targets and will update the plan as necessary.

British Columbia continues to have the highest and most comprehensive carbon tax in North America. In 2013, the province’s froze the revenue-neutral carbon tax at $30 per tonne for five years, to allow other jurisdictions time to catch up with comparable carbon pricing mechanisms.

BC supports the adoption of the province’s $30/tonne carbon tax as the benchmark price across the country. As any effective price signal on carbon has to go up over time, B.C. also supports increasing that price together in an affordable way, once others catch up. As provincial and territorial governments are closest to their economies, they can fashion a carbon price mechanism that meets the needs of their own jurisdictions.

The government said that revenue neutrality remains the core principle of the carbon tax. The tax will increase only if it remains revenue-neutral and every dollar is returned to citizens in the form of tax relief. Additionally, a mechanism must be in place to keep industries that are emission-intensive and trade-exposed competitive with other jurisdictions.

Transportation. Transportation accounted for 37% of the province’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.

Climate action in the transportation sector must focus on supporting interconnected communities and the efficient movement of goods and people. That means: encouraging adoption of efficient vehicles and creating associated cost savings; supporting innovation in clean vehicles and fuels that improve our air quality, while creating new jobs in the clean tech industry; and working to guide the development of safe and reliable transportation infrastructure that is built to withstand extreme weather events.

—Climate Leadership Plan

Under the plan, the province is launching new actions to reduce the impact of transportation, including:

  • Increasing the requirements for the Low Carbon Fuel Standard from 10% in 2020 relative to 2014 to 15% in 2030.

  • Natural gas is considered renewable when it is produced from sources of biogas such as organic waste or wastewater. B.C. will amend the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation to encourage emission reductions in transportation. This amendment will allow utilities to double the total pool of incentives available to convert commercial fleets to natural gas, when the new incentives go towards vehicles using 100% renewable natural gas.

  • Promote investments in natural gas fuelling stations at customers’ facilities; and support the production of renewable natural gas resources through increased demand.

  • Expanding support for zero emission vehicle charging stations in buildings. These actions include developing regulations to allow local governments to require new buildings to install adequate infrastructure for electric vehicle charging; and developing policies to facilitate installing electric vehicle charging stations in strata buildings and developments.

This is in addition to the 10-year transportation plan that will:

  • Invest in infrastructure to reduce congestion;

  • Create new rapid transit lines; and

  • Shift more public transit to low carbon fuels.

In total, the transportation action area is expected to reduce annual emissions by up to 3 million tonnes by 2050.

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