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B.C. government establishing interim greenhouse gas emission targets to hit 2030 goal

B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, left, shakes hands with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver as he walks to the podium and Weaver returns to his seat after the provincial government released its CleanBC plan aimed at reducing climate pollution, in Vancouver, on Wednesday December 5, 2018.
B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman, left, shakes hands with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver as he walks to the podium and Weaver returns to his seat after the provincial government released its CleanBC plan aimed at reducing climate pollution, in Vancouver, on Wednesday December 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The province has introduced legislation requiring government to set interim emissions targets to achieve a 2030 goal of reducing B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below 2007 levels.

If passed, the legislation will also build in 2030 sectoral targets following engagement with stakeholders, Indigenous peoples and communities throughout B.C. The province’s goal is to reduce carbon pollution effectively across B.C.’s economy, homes, workplaces and transportation choices.

“We’re committed to meeting our climate targets and making sure our CleanBC plan gets us to where we need to go. That means being honest and transparent about our progress to make sure people can determine we’re on the right track,” B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said.

“People across this province, and especially young people, are demanding we take the climate crisis seriously and that we make sure everyone works together to secure a stronger, cleaner future. That’s why we will work with communities, people and industry to put in place targets for each sector. What’s more, we’re mandating that the steps we’re taking are reported to the public every year, by law.”

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READ MORE: B.C. climate plan targets cleaner industry and transportation to hit emission targets

The legislation provides the legal backbone for the government’s CleanBC plan.

The plan was put together in consultation with the BC Greens as part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

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 is still working on new initiatives before rolling them out to address the remaining 25 per cent of reductions.

Premier Horgan lays out the details of the climate action plan
Premier Horgan lays out the details of the climate action plan

The legislation tabled on Wednesday includes new reporting requirements on actions to reduce carbon pollution, their cost and how they will achieve government’s legislated emission reduction targets.

The mandatory annual reports will outline the latest emissions data and projections, as well as actions planned for future years and the effect they are expected to have.

“As a climate scientist, I know that transparent, accurate, timely and publicly accessible data is crucial to achieving our climate commitments,” BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said.

“Campaign trail promises to address climate change are meaningless without concrete policy action to bring those promises to fruition.”

NDP government releases major climate plan
NDP government releases major climate plan

The province still needs to put in legislative changes to establish an independent advisory committee that will be modeled on the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council.

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“B.C. is showing what it takes to design a strong climate plan and turn it into action, and with this new accountability framework, the government is taking another important step,” Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council former co-chair Merran Smith said.

The interim emissions targets will be established no later than Dec. 31, 2020. Sectoral targets will be established no later than March 31, 2021.

British Columbia already has legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets, as well as a requirement to collect data for tracking emissions, but targets are set 10 years apart and data is published on a two-year delay.

“Combine that with a four-year government mandate and you create a situation where party leaders spend the first two years blaming their predecessors for bad results and the next two years saying they are just getting started while making promises they can only fulfill if you vote them back in,” Weaver said.

“I have seen so many promising policies fail because of this pattern of inaction, so fixing it was a top priority.”