British Columbia

Kyoto withdrawal not ruffling B.C. government

The B.C. government will not join the chorus of criticism levelled against the federal government for abandoning the Kyoto Protocol on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

The B.C. government won't condemn Ottawa for pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, says provincial Environment Minister Terry Lake.

"I understand the federal position," said Lake, who attended last week’s climate change summit in Durban, South Africa.

B.C.’s Liberal government has portrayed itself as a leader in fighting climate change, but had never expressed much enthusiasm for the Kyoto agreement.

As far back as 2002, former premier Gordon Campbell said he had grave concerns about possible job losses in B.C. as a result of the accord, struck in Japan in 1997.

Now that Canada is pulling out of Kyoto, the B.C. government  refuses to join the chorus of criticism.

"[The withdrawal] really doesn't impact British Columbia because we've got our a own climate action targets," said Lake.

The province's greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2008, the year it took effect, then dropped in 2009.

But they remain far above 1990, which is the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol.

The stated goal is to reduce B.C.’s  greenhouse gas emissions by more than 33 per cent by 2020.

B.C.’s carbon tax on retail fuel sales — designed to discourage fuel use, and still unique among Canadian provinces — will rise another 1.11 cents on a litre of gasoline in July 2012, to 6.67 cents. The carbon tax on other fuels varies.

Participating countries in Durban, including Canada, agreed to work towards a new accord that would be binding on all participating nations.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies