Lehigh cement plant in Delta is one of the industries affected by B.C.’s carbon tax, giving a price advantage to U.S. and Asian producers. (Black Press files)

B.C. VIEWS: New climate targets to miss

B.C. has new greenhouse gas target, still no plan to reach it

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman has unveiled the NDP-Green government’s brave new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, without giving any real hint of how these will succeed where decades of previous targets have not.

The old targets from the Gordon Campbell government were based on 2007 emissions, announced as B.C. adopted Canada’s first significant carbon tax on fuels in 2008. They were a 33 per cent reduction by 2020, and a breath-taking 80 per cent by 2050.

Former premier Christy Clark acknowledged a couple of years ago that the first target wasn’t going to be met, as her government worked overtime to develop a liquefied natural gas export industry. Heyman formalized that in legislation presented last week.

The new target is a 40 per cent reduction by 2030, based on 2007 levels. The 2050 target of 80 per cent less carbon dioxide and equivalent gases remains, looking about as achievable now as it did when it was set a decade ago. To make it, barring some sort of technological miracle, much of B.C. will be back to using horses and buggies, if not depopulated.

Reporters had a brief hallway scrum with Heyman to ask about the strategy. I’ve been following this stuff since Canada signed on to the failed Kyoto Protocol in 1992, and the political soft-shoe dance hasn’t changed much.

Reporter: Aren’t these pretty ambitious targets, minister?

Heyman: “They are ambitious, and we’ll be detailing over the next months particular measures, whether it’s in transportation, whether it’s in energy savings, in buildings and homes, whether it’s reductions in emissions in industry, about how we propose to bring those down.

Reporter: What’s different now from 10 years ago?

Heyman: “We’re building a plan. We expect to work with all industries to see how we’re going to meet the reductions they need to make overall. What we certainly don’t want to do is disadvantage any industry in B.C.”

Reporter: Do these new targets take into account your latest incentives for LNG Canada?

Heyman: “We have to see how we can meet an overall industrial emission reduction target, and where any increase in certain industries would fit into that. Our government was very clear to the proponent that we’re setting targets and it all had to fit.”

Translation: Building a plan means there still isn’t one. Not disadvantaging B.C. industries is a fabrication. Powdered cement is already being imported from the U.S. and China.

So how far are we from reducing B.C. emissions by a third, as 2020 approaches? I wish I could tell you, but neither the federal or provincial government is very forthcoming with that information. The most recent data I could find from either source is from 2015, showing a modest reduction between 2005 and 2015.

The previous B.C. government provided some emission tracking data as the carbon tax started going up in small steps. It showed a big drop-off after 2008, which everyone except then-environment minister Terry Lake acknowledged was a result of a world-wide recession and financial crisis that ground investment and construction to a halt.

The B.C. economy was ticking along pretty well in 2007, lots of cars and trucks being bought, lots of construction and so on. Nothing like today, however, with population up substantially and concrete high-rise construction everywhere you look in major urban centres. Our gasoline prices are at record highs, and despite that I’m pretty sure our greenhouse gas emissions are too.

The only real plan so far is to keep raising taxes until emissions fall.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislaturecarbon taxClimate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Powerful thunderstorms called for the West Kootenay this weekend

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement Thursday afternoon.

Morning Start: 180 different bird species exist in Kootenay National Park

Here is your Kootenays’ morning start for Friday, May 29

Nakusp RCMP seize large quantity of drugs during seach warrant on May 27

The warrant was conducted in the 300th block of 8th Avenue NW

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read