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Expectations high as B.C. government gets set to release climate plan on Wednesday

Expectations high as B.C. government gets set to release climate plan on Wednesday
Canada
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is promising a “realistic” and “conservative” plan to address the province’s future climate change goals.

Weaver, who will unveil the plan alongside Premier John Horgan on Wednesday, says he is optimistic it will create enough incentives for British Columbians to buy into the province’s climate targets.

“The plan is about carrots and sticks,” Weaver said. “There will be ways to assist the public to adopt, some of them is building infrastructure out for electric vehicles as well as incentives.

“If you are able to make your home more energy efficient it may cost a little upfront and you save it down the road. That is where the government has a role and that is what you will see emerging from the Clean BC plan.”

The climate plan was a central piece of the power-sharing agreement signed between the Greens and the NDP that gave Horgan the premier’s jobs. The province has legislated targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2030.

The added challenge is the inclusion of the massive LNG Canada facility in Kitimat, which has an estimated phase 1 carbon output of 3.45 megatonnes per year. The massive increase in emissions led to Weaver pushing back against the project. In the end, he conceded the climate plan can address a lot of the concerns associated with the project.

The Sierra Club’s Caitlyn Vernon isn’t so sure. She says she is struggling to know how the province can produce a climate plan that hits legislated targets while also promoting the LNG industry.

“It is difficult to see how they are going to square the circle,” she said. “On the one hand promoting fracking, which will increase carbon pollution, and on the other hand coming up with other ways to reduce emissions in other sectors.

“It would be easier to respond to climate change if LNG was not in the picture.”

The plan will in part be focused on the way that British Columbians can lower their daily emission footprint. That includes greater incentives to moving into zero emission vehicles and building or renovating homes that are more energy efficient.

British Columbia is set to introduce legislation next spring that will set the province up to require all new light-duty cars and trucks that are sold to be zero-emission vehicles by the year 2040.

The legislation will set targets of 10 per cent zero-emission vehicles sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040. As part of the plan, the province will boost the incentive program administered by the New Car Dealers Association of BC by $20 million this year to encourage more British Columbians to buy clean-energy cars.

The province is also expected to provide greater incentives to people for making their homes more energy efficient.

“We are looking for government action that takes this seriously, that looks like finding ways to reduce carbon pollution,” Vernon said. “And so things like retrofitting our buildings to be more energy efficient, changing our transportation so that we have less pollution and doing stuff that stops the promotion of extracting fossil fuels and burning them.”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is concerned the climate plan will mean more taxes for British Columbians. As of April 1, the carbon tax rate is $35 per tonne and will increase each year by $5 per tonne until it reaches $50 per tonne in 2021.

“Most people need a car, we need to pick up our groceries, we need to heat our homes,” Kris Sims of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said. “There is not really a viable, affordable alternative. The answer isn’t just to tax people for a living. It’s not optional.”
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