British Columbia

B.C. needs to act on climate change, says frustrated government expert

“We need the government to act. You can’t say you’re a carbon leader if your carbon emissions are going up,” says Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada.

Almost six months later, the government has failed to even publish a draft of its climate action plan

Premier Christy Clark has refused to commit to the Climate Leadership Team's recommendations in the past, despite the team being appointed by her government. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A member of the provincial government's Climate Leadership Team is expressing disappointment in the government's record on climate action.

Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, was part of the team that made 32 recommendations to the provincial government in November.

However, almost six months later, the government has failed to even publish a draft of its climate action plan.

"They committed that they were going to come out with a climate leadership plan, and it's been delayed," Smith told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"What's most important is we need the government to act. You can't say you're a carbon leader if your carbon emissions are going up."

One of the 32 recommendations from the leadership team Smith wants the government to act on is an increase to the carbon tax, which currently costs $30 per tonne.

With B.C.'s carbon emissions rising, an increase in the carbon tax is necessary to slow down those emissions, Smith says.

"We have a serious problem. We need to address it," Smith "And one of the best tools we have has been our carbon tax."

Many voices speaking out

Over past few weeks, a group of mayors and over 130 businesses have called on the provincial government to increase the carbon tax.

However, a group of northeastern B.C. municipalities and businesses — where B.C.'s oil and gas sector largely lies — released a statement this week that called on the province to keep the carbon tax frozen.

"If there is not a carbon tax increase, then we really won't be able to meet our climate targets," Smith said in response to their call.

Smith says if money from a higher carbon tax is spent on green infrastructure and assistance to businesses and homes making green retrofits, families in Northern B.C. could see a savings of around $1,200 yearly.

The government is expected to respond, one way or another, to the Climate Leadership Team's recommendations in June.

Public consultation on the recommendations ended Friday, April 8 at noon.

With files from On The Coast


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Climate Leadership Team member says government needs to raise carbon tax — and soon

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