In an at-times bizarre and at-times confusing press conference, BC Green leader Andrew Weaver said on Thursday that he does not support the government’s new regime on LNG, but that he won’t be taking the government down right now on the issue.
Speaking to reporters for nearly 30 minutes, Weaver said the plan breaks the confidence and supply agreement between the Greens and NDP, and that he does not see a way in which the government can meet legislated climate reduction targets while the proposed LNG Canada facility is operating.
LISTEN: Green Leader Andrew Weaver responds to NDP LNG plan
“If you are going to add eight to 10 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and you are going to meet our targets, then all other aspects of the economy must make up the difference,” said Weaver. “What that means is by 2030 all other aspects of our economy, other than LNG Canada, would have to cut emissions by 50 per cent.”
The BC NDP announced on Thursday a new framework to support a liquefied natural gas industry in the province. The tax breaks include relief from PST (in line with others in the manufacturing sector), the elimination of the LNG income tax and capping carbon tax at $30 per tonne if the LNG facility can show it is the cleanest in the world.
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Weaver said he met with Premier John Horgan about the LNG plan and that the Greens raised objections to the cap on the carbon tax. The confidence and supply agreement also contained a $5 per tonne increase on the carbon tax up to $50 per tonne. What the Green party leader made very clear is that the government hitting climate change targets is essential for him.
“Our confidence in government is predicated on government developing a client plan to meet our targets. Government has been in power eight months and we haven’t seen such a plan put forwards,” said Weaver. “We are trying to figure out how you can jive adding eight megatonnes and at the same time cutting emissions elsewhere.”
But where Weaver is non-committal is on taking down the the provincial government. There is no confidence vote scheduled until next spring and Weaver has said he is waiting for the province to put together the LNG legislation in the fall. The legislation is set to include a comprehensive climate plan from the NDP government, which Weaver says should include details on where emissions will be cut.
“Show us the climate plan and we continue to have confidence in government. If you can’t our confidence is lost,” said Weaver. “This is not about toppling this government at this juncture. This is about LNG Canada having the information before it about making a financial investment decision which is we do not support the measures that government has put forward.”
Weaver was part of discussions with the government on the new tax regime and raised his concerns. The $40 billion investment would be the largest capital project in the province’s history, and could create up to 10,000 construction jobs.
“What he has done is he has agreed to work with us and other sectors of the economy to make sure our climate action plan in robust and realistic and can meet the challenges we all face,” said Horgan. “We are continuing to work with him and other members of the legislature to meet those objectives.”
“Mr. Weaver and I have talked about this at length. We are committed to making this government work.”