B.C. government drops greenhouse gas target for new 2030 goal

The B.C. government is blaming the previous Liberal government for failing to do enough to meet the 2020 target.

NDP blames previous Liberal government for failing to do enough to meet 2020 target

Despite efforts to get more people out of their vehicles, B.C. is not expected to meet its 2007 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The B.C. government has dropped its greenhouse gas reduction target, blaming the previous Liberal government for failing to do enough to meet the goal set in 2007.

On Monday, the NDP announced the 2020 target was being replaced with a 40 per cent reduction of 2007 levels by 2030, as part of a new Climate Change Accountability Act.

"The previous government, after stalling on sustained climate action for several years, admitted they could not meet their 2020 target, and those targets are repealed in this act," said a statement released by Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman.

A new Climate Change Accountability Act sets the target of a 40 per cent reduction of 2007 greenhouse gas levels by 2030. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The goal of reducing the province's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 33 per cent by 2020 was one of several promises made by then-premier Gordon Campbell in 2007.

In 2015 the Liberal's own Climate Leadership Team issued a scathing report concluding there was little chance of hitting the 2020 target. Many blamed then-premier's Christy Clark's decision to freeze the carbon tax for stalling reductions at 6.5 per cent

The new legislation adopts the targets recommended by the 2015 report, including a 60 per cent reduction from 2007 levels by 2040. The previous target of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 remains.

Green leader gives endorsement

The new targets were supported by Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, as part of his agreement to support the NDP on confidence votes, the statement said.

As recently as January, Weaver had promised to pull his support for the NDP government if Premier John Horgan continued to pursue the development of LNG projects that would threaten B.C.'s ability to meet GHG targets.

"Let me be perfectly clear: NDP government will fall in non confidence if after all that has happened it continues to pursue LNG folly," said Weaver in one tweet.

While Horgan never renounced his intentions to restart the province's flagging LNG industry, Weaver was much more conciliatory on Monday.

"This legislation is another step forward toward making B.C. a leader in climate action once again," said Weaver.

Environmentalists say the B.C. government has to do more than set targets if it wants to lower greenhouse gas emissions. (Nicolas Amaya/CBC)

Still no accountability

But environmentalists were less convinced. Despite the name of the new Climate Change Accountability Act, Ecojustice's Alan Andrews says it stills leaves the government unaccountable for hitting GHG targets that are more than a decade away.

"In the 10 years since B.C.'s climate law was first introduced, we have had a succession of broken promises and missed targets — and nothing in today's announcement suggests the next 10 years will be any different," said Andrews.

"If the government of British Columbia truly wants to get the province 'back on track' and regain credibility on climate, it will need to do more than simply introduce targets."

Andrews called on the government to set more accountable targets.

"B.C.'s climate laws need a complete overhaul to ensure that politicians and industry are accountable for taking action that delivers real progress in tackling climate change."

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