British Columbia

B.C. leaders tout climate change efforts in Copenhagen

Some of B.C.'s top politicians and environmentalists are heading to the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this week to show how local leaders can make significant international contributions to fight global warming.

Some of B.C.'s top politicians and environmentalists are heading to the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this week to show how local leaders can make significant international contributions to fight global warming.

Premier Gordon Campbell will be the keynote speaker at a forum on setting up an international carbon trading market, something Campbell has been working with other provinces and U.S. states to establish for several years.

"We can show our national institutions what we are doing already to actually deal with the issues of carbon emissions and we can actually show them in some ways the path. We can set some examples that they'll be able to follow," said Campbell.

University of Victoria climate change expert Dr. Andrew Weaver said Campbell can go to Copenhagen with his head held high because his government has taken the lead by introducing a carbon tax and setting legislated targets to reduce emissions.

Green bragging rights

Meanwhile, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is also in Copenhagen, touting the city's green strategy to mayors from around the world.

Robertson said Vancouver has the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in North America and he'll be encouraging other mayors to match Vancouver's achievements.

"I'll be laying out the next step, this goal to be the greenest city in the world, basically challenging all these other mayors and their cities to do the same, said Robertson.

"I want to see this as a friendly but spirited global competition to be the greenest, where we can share our best practices. And really for Vancouver it's an excellent opportunity right now to stand out from the crowd," he said.

Old-growth carbon sinks

Ken Wu, the campaign director of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee is also heading to Copenhagen to drum up support for local forests.

Wu says deforestation is emerging as an important issue at the climate change talks, and  B.C. environmentalists hope the world will help them save old-growth forests in this province.

Scientists say B.C.'s coastal forests are among the best carbon storehouses on the planet, able to pull millions of tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

"Old-growth forests store two to three times more carbon per hectare than the ensuing second-growth tree plantations. So there's a net release of carbon when you log old growth and convert it to second growth," said Wu.

"The second growth, even if it grows faster, is just trying to get back to carbon lost by logging old-growth forest. And it won't, because no one is going to let it grow for another 200 years."                            

Wu hopes the federal government will take the lead on changing logging practices and protecting old-growth forests.

now