British Columbia has introduced its long-awaited carbon emissions reduction plan.
The complex series of changes aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, based on 2007 levels.
The CleanBC plan is fully funded by the provincial government and “quantifies measures” that will eliminate 18.9 megatonnes of emissions, which make up about 75 per cent of the target. The government will be rolling out further reduction initiatives over the next 18 to 24 months.
“The low-carbon economy we build together will bring opportunities and jobs throughout the province, so people can live and work with greater security in the communities they call home,” B.C. Premier John Horgan said.
“By moving to clean, renewable energy — like our abundant supply of B.C. electricity — we can power our growing economy and make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”
The plan focuses on four main sectors: transportation, where we live and work, industry, and waste. It was created by the government with significant input from the Green Party caucus and party leader Andrew Weaver, who is one of Canada’s foremost climate scientists.
The CleanBC plan commits to a previously announced promise that every new car sold in B.C. will be a zero-emission vehicle by 2040. The province has unveiled incentive programs to make it easier to afford a zero-emission vehicle and cheaper to charge or fuel them.
WATCH: Premier Horgan on the environmental impact in B.C.
The government’s legislation will set targets of 10 per cent zero-emission sales by 2025, 30 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2040. As part of the plan, the province will boost the incentive program administered by the New Car Dealers Association of BC by $20 million this year to encourage more British Columbians to buy clean-energy cars.
The province is projecting that zero-emission vehicles will have a similar average price to combustion engine vehicles by the mid-2020s.
Cleaner fuel is another part of the emission reduction puzzle. The goal is to reduce the low carbon standard on gasoline by 20 per cent by 2030 and increasing the production of renewable transportation fuels.
LISTEN: Minister of Environment George Heyman speaks to Lynda Steele:
Every new building constructed in the province will be “net-zero energy ready” by 2032 and the province has pledged $400 million to support energy retrofits and upgrades for B.C.’s stock of publicly-funded housing. The province is also upgrading building codes in the province to increase efficiency standards.
Incentive programs are also in the works to make heat pumps more affordable. Residential natural gas consumption will also be cleaner by putting in place a minimum requirement of 15 per cent to come from renewable gas.
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Details of the incentive programs will be unveiled during the 2019 B.C. provincial budget in February.
“CleanBC will position our province for success as the world transitions to low-carbon solutions,” Weaver said. “It is a testament to what we can accomplish when we recognize our shared values and commit to working together.”
The climate plan was one of the central tenants of the confidence and supply agreement signed between the NDP and the B.C. Greens. British Columbia has historically be a climate leader, becoming the first North American jurisdiction to put in a revenue neutral carbon price in 2008.
WATCH: (aired February 2, 2017): B.C. NDP unveils carbon pricing plan
The current energy use mix is the province is that two-thirds of energy come from fossil fuels. The main part of the plan is to increase the reliance on clean energy use and reduce use of fossil fuels.
“British Columbia has show real leadership on climate action in Canada and on the world stage,” federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said. “Their climate leadership is good for the environment and it’s good for the economy.”
Environmental groups have been heaping universal praise on B.C.’s plan. SFU professor Mark Jaccard says it is “a very good plan” and the electric vehicle targets should eventually push manufacturers to lower the price.
WATCH: Premier Horgan on the environmental impact in BC
“Anybody who needs to get the kids to hockey games in the suburbs is ultimately going to do well by this policy in terms of their pocketbook,” Jaccard said. “The cost of electric cars has gone down significantly it will continue to fall over the next few years more and more models coming out, all sizes.”
B.C. director at the Pembina Institute and a member of B.C.’s Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council Karen Tam Wu says today ‘is a good day for Canada’.
“This forward-looking plan signals an exciting vision for a clean economy,” Tam Wu said. “In just over 10 years, all new homes and buildings will be low carbon. More electric vehicles will be on the roads; in just over 20 years, all new cars sold will be zero emissions. Going forward, we will generate more clean electricity and renewable fuels, and burn less oil and gas.”
WATCH: Green Party Leader excited about targets for sale of zero-emission vehicles
The plan has the support of some major players in the province’s business community. The Business Council of British Columbia says tools within the new plan helps to begin positioning B.C. businesses to be a supplier of choice for international markets seeking lower-carbon intensive energy.
“Climate change is a global challenge requiring global solutions,” council CEO Greg D’Avignon said. “By leveraging our low-carbon assets, including renewable hydro electricity, British Columbia can play an outsized role in reducing global climate impacts in high-emission jurisdictions, while building a competitive and innovative economy for British Columbians and reducing emissions here at home.”
There are concerns around the impact the plan will have on the wallets of everyday British Columbians. With no details on how the incentive programs work, the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Kris Sims is warning it could be a tough financial pill to swallow.
“I’m tired of politicians ignoring the pleas of average working people and so I’m encouraging you, if you’re listening to this right now and you can’t make ends meet and you find it unaffordable to live here you gotta push back pick, up the phone call the premier and Andrew Weaver and send an email you don’t need to live like this,” Sims said.
–With files from Janet Brown