BC Launches Climate Change Plan

Vancouver, Canada – The Province of British Columbia will introduce new legislative measures this fall that will mandate greenhouse gas reduction targets and provide legal tools to implement government’s strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent below current levels by 2020. BC Premier Gordon Campbell made this announcement at recent convention of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

“As we said in the throne speech, our target for 2020 is very aggressive and it will challenge us all to meet it,” said Campbell. “In this coming fall session, we intend to legislate the 2020 target, as well as a target for 2050. The bill will also require us to establish legally binding emissions reduction targets for 2012 and 2016.”

A Climate Action Team will also be announced next month, consisting of a “blue ribbon” team of leaders from environmental organizations, private enterprise, the scientific community, First Nations and academia.

The Climate Action Team will determine the most credible, aggressive and economically viable sector targets possible for 2012 and 2016. That work will be completed by July 31, 2008. The government has declared that the targets identified for 2012 and 2016 must be scientifically supported with viable emission reduction strategies that are economically and fiscally achievable. Those targets will be put out for public review, either accepted or amended, and legally mandated through regulation by the end of 2008.

Legislation will also be introduced next spring to allow for the creation of market mechanisms and make B.C. the first province in Canada to legally require “hard caps” on GHG emissions. Those caps will be used as part of a “cap and trade system” that is scheduled to be developed by next August through the Western Climate Initiative.

Sectoral symposiums will take place to discuss GHG emission reduction strategies with forestry (Prince George), mining (Terrace) energy (Fort St. John) waste and landfills (Nanaimo) and agriculture (Kamloops).

Further legislation will be introduced this fall to require all Province of British Columbia entities, including Crown agencies, to be carbon neutral by 2010. All public sector organizations, including school boards and health authorities, will be required by law to produce annual public reports on their progress.

All government travel will be required to be carbon neutral starting this year. Emissions from government travel will be tracked, calculated, peer reviewed and audited. Measures to reduce unnecessary travel, such as video-conferencing capabilities, will be extended.

Starting this fiscal year, for every tonne of GHGs associated with official government travel, the Province will invest $25 in a new BC Carbon Trust. The trust will be launched early next year and will ensure tax dollars are invested in valid offset projects in B.C. It will also be open to individuals, companies and other levels of government to help them become carbon neutral and help reduce emissions by supporting a made-in-B.C. offset project.

Projects funded by the trust may include enhanced energy efficiency, produce clean, renewable energy or sequester carbon through incremental afforestation measures.

“In the long run, this has the potential to save agencies money. It does not cost us to turn off the lights. It does not cost us to turn down the thermostat. It does not cost us to drive a smaller car with a more efficient engine,” said Campbell. “Moreover, we should all know by now that the costs of doing nothing are getting higher every day.”

Other actions outlined by Premier Campbell:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies and targets will be legally required in all official community plans and regional growth strategies.

  • Municipalities will be given the power to waive development cost charges as a way to encourage green developments, small unit housing and small lot subdivisions.

  • All new government buildings or facilities shall be built to a minimum LEED Gold or equivalent certification.

  • Legislation will be introduced next spring to require the adoption of California tailpipe emission standards to be phased in from 2009 to 2016.

  • B.C. will be the first province in Canada to legally adopt California’s low carbon fuel content standards, a requirement that will reduce carbon intensity of all passenger vehicles by a further 10 per cent by 2020.

  • B.C. will implement a five per cent average renewable fuel standard for diesel by 2010 and support the federal government’s plan to increase the ethanol content of gasoline to five per cent by 2010.

  • The Province will provide an additional $50 million this year for BC Transit to purchase new, clean buses and expand public transit service across B.C.

  • In the coming weeks, government will lay out a vision for transit. It will be on a scale and scope aimed at making B.C. a global leader in public transit.
“Later this fall, we will be releasing phase one of our climate action plan that will detail strategies we’ve identified so far which have the potential to reduce our GHG emissions by 24 to 33 million tonnes. That’s enough to get us anywhere from 60 to 82 per cent towards our target of a 33 per cent reduction,” said Campbell.

To date, the Cabinet Committee on Climate Action has had 177 presentations from scientists, public servants, environmental organizations, academics and industry sectors. The committee has identified strategies to reduce sectoral emissions by an estimated seven to nine million tonnes from electricity, two million tonnes from buildings, seven to 10 million tonnes from industry, six to nine million tonnes from transportation and two to three million tonnes from waste.

There will be independent verification of these reductions through a peer review panel. Those numbers will change as new strategies are identified and the government hears more from each sector about what it thinks is possible.

In other related news the province will provide an additional $50 million this year for BC Transit to purchase new, clean buses and expand public transit service across B.C.

“In the coming weeks, we will lay out our vision for transit,” said Campbell. “It will be on a scale and scope aimed at making our province a global leader in public transit. Today I can tell you we will also act to help communities across B.C. upgrade their bus fleets.”

The government will introduce legislation this spring requiring 50 per cent of all new incremental power needs to be offset through conservation by 2020.

For More Information: Government of British Columbia

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