B.C. climate leadership team calls on province to act
Recommendations include increase to the carbon tax, decrease in provincial sales tax
B.C.'s climate leadership team has released its plan for tackling climate change. Among the 32 recommendations are calls to increase the carbon tax, decrease the provincial sales tax, and legislate a new 2030 emissions target.
The plan comes just as Premier Christy Clark and Environment Minister Mary Polak get ready for climate talks in Paris next week.
Clark announced her climate team back in April, appointing members from B.C. businesses, First Nations, local governments, academia, and environmental groups.
She asked them to come up with a plan.
"It was very tough," said Merran Smith, climate team member and executive director of Clean Energy Canada.
"We were at it for months over the summer and we certainly had a lot of heated discussions."
Mary Polak says the goal was to look at ways of reducing carbon emissions without shutting down industry. With recommendations in hand, the province will now be looking to industry and the public for feedback.
"We know that we cannot achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets unless everyone is contributing to that," said Polak.
Tough to meet targets, team member says
"And we want to hear from British Columbians as to the priorities they hold, in terms of our actions, to make sure that our climate is one that will be healthy and sustainable for our children and our grandchildren to come."
Among the climate team's findings was that it will be extremely difficult for B.C. to hit its 2020 target to reduce emissions by at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels. This goal is part of a long-term strategy to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
"It's really unfortunate. We came out of the gate with strong climate policies in 2007 but we really haven't done anything new," said Smith.
"We haven't adopted any new climate plans and the carbon tax was frozen in 2012 and so that's why our emissions have actually stopped going down, and in fact have started creeping back up."
In order to stay on track to meeting the 2050 goal, the climate team is recommending a 2030 target of a 40 per cent emissions reduction below 2007 levels.
Smith is urging the government to adopt all 32 of the new recommendations — stressing that it's important to treat them as a package.
"The province is really at a crossroads now — are we going to maintain our climate leadership and adopt this whole set of recommendations? Because that's what it's going to take for B.C. to continue to be a climate leader."
To hear more from Merran Smith, click the link: Merran Smith on B.C. climate leadership team recommendations.