B.C. government misses climate targets due to previous government ‘stalling’

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman says government is changing its air pollution targets. Richard Zussman/Global News

The B.C. government is altering its greenhouse gas emission targets. The province is backing away from the aggressive goal of a 33 per cent reduction in GHG emissions from 2007 levels by 2020 that it now knows it won’t meet.

The original target was set by then Liberal premier Gordon Campbell. The province is now targeting a 40 per cent reduction of carbon emissions from 2007 levels by 2030 and a 60 per cent reduction of 2007 levels by 2040. The Government of British Columbia introduced legislation on Monday to update the Province’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

“The act is the foundation for a credible and achievable climate action strategy in B.C.,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman. “The previous government, after stalling on sustained climate action for several years, admitted they could not meet their 2020 target, and those targets are repealed in this act.”

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The changes set the stage for the province’s climate action plan to be unveiled in the fall. Green party leader Andrew Weaver is working alongside Heyman is building the new plan.

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“This legislation is another step forward towards making B.C. a leader in climate action once again,” said Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. “This is a huge opportunity to build a thriving 21st-century economy centred around innovation. I look forward to working in partnership with the government to implement a plan to reclaim this leadership, and keep our commitment to younger generations.”

The Pembina Institute called the previous government’s inability to hit targets “deeply regrettable” and calls it a major setback that “underscores the need for Premier John Horgan’s government to work with the climate council” to role out the new climate plan in the fall. But the National policy director Josha MacNab says the government’s commitment to an LNG industry could make things worse.

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“It must be noted that developing new emissions-intensive industries, such as liquefied natural gas, would make it exceptionally challenging for B.C. to make good on its climate commitments,” said MacNab. “This would also place a heavier burden on other industries to deliver the needed carbon pollution reductions. Accordingly, much more should be done to reduce carbon pollution from proposed LNG plants and associated upstream operations.”

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