BC NDP pledges net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 if re-elected

NDP Leader John Horgan reacts to a shot as he plays lacrosse as he meets the local candidate during an election campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C. Tuesday, September 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

BC NDP leader John Horgan on Friday promised he would bring in legislation to require net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 if re-elected on Oct. 24.

The pledge builds on the party’s commitment while in government and would require any carbon emissions to be offset by natural carbon sinks, carbon capture or other technologies.

“The unprecedented challenges we face today, from the economic shock of a global pandemic to the threat of a changing climate, also present opportunities,” Horgan said at his campaign event in Squamish.

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“As a leader in clean energy, British Columbia is uniquely placed to seize these opportunities. Meeting this ambitious target of net-zero emissions will help us create good jobs through the recovery while we reduce air pollution.”

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Currently, all new vehicles sold in B.C. after 2040 must be zero-emission, while the province, under Horgan, aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, based on 2007 levels.

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Campaigning in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau called the commitment “meaningless” without a detailed plan to achieve it.

The Greens pointed to studies showing that, when the $40-billion LNG Canada project to build an export facility in Kitimat is factored in, emissions from oil and gas production will exceed B.C.’s existing 2050 target by 160 per cent, even if all other emissions are reduced to zero by 2035.

“We already have legislated targets for 2040, but the BC NDP has shown they have no plan to meet them,” Furstenau said.

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“With their approval of the biggest point source of emissions in B.C.’s history just last year — a project that will pollute well into the 2060s — the NDP have shown they cannot be trusted to act on climate change. If the NDP are serious about climate action, they must end fossil fuel subsidies now.”

B.C. currently plans to cover only 75 per cent of the 2030 targets. The NDP provided substantial tax breaks to LNG Canada in a bid to secure the deal.

“Politicians like Mr. Horgan who claim to take the climate crisis seriously and then pass billions in subsidies to the worst polluters are doing serious harm,” Furstenau said.

“Their hypocrisy is leaving people who are worried about climate change, especially young people, feeling hopeless and disillusioned.”

Meanwhile, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson campaigned in Merritt in the southern interior to show support for the forestry and resource sectors.

He criticized Horgan government for failing to act in three years to address issues that have forced mill closures in several Interior communities.

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Wilkinson said his party would revive forest and resource industries by revising stumpage fees, acting more firmly against protests that delay approved projects — such as the Trans Mountain Pipeline — and improving the permit process for mines.

– with a file from The Canadian Press

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