Environmental group sues B.C. government over alleged ‘missing’ climate plans

Click to play video: 'Environmental group sues B.C. government for more accountability over greenhouse gas targets'
Environmental group sues B.C. government for more accountability over greenhouse gas targets
Environmental groups and the B.C. government are facing off in a Vancouver court. The Sierra Club accuses the province of not reporting its plans to meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets -- something that's required by its own climate change legislation. Emily Lazatin has our top story – Oct 4, 2022

An environmental organization is suing the B.C. government for an alleged failure to adhere to its own climate change legislation.

Sierra Club BC, represented by Ecojustice, claims the province has not presented plans outlining how it intends to meet its 2025, 2040 and 2050 climate targets, or its goal of cutting carbon pollution from the oil and gas sector.

That reporting is required by the Climate Change Accountability Act, but was “missing” in the government’s 2021 report, the environmental groups told Global News.

“We are moving into completely unchartered territory in terms of the climate crisis, undermining ecosystems in all parts of the world,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner and science advisor at Sierra Club BC.

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“We have to act now, but somehow we still have federal and provincial governments allowing new fossil fuel projects going ahead without detailed plans demonstrating how we can possibly meet our climate targets.”

Sierra Club BC, Ecojustice and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment staged a rally in Vancouver on Tuesday, as the case went before the B.C. Supreme Court.

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“B.C., like Canada, has a long and dismal track record of setting climate targets but then failing to meet them,” said Alan Andrews, Ecojustice climate program director, at a news conference.

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“We’re in court today because we argued that B.C. has failed to comply with its own climate law … it’s really only just focused on its 2030 target.”

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In a statement Tuesday statement, the B.C. Ministry of Environment said the province has “the strongest climate accountability measures in Canada.”

“Any future government is legally bound to publicly report on progress to achieving the Province’s legislated climate targets,” it wrote.

“The annual Climate Change Accountability Report uses the latest available data to demonstrate where we see progress, where there are opportunities and what adjustments are necessary to achieve our goals.”

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While the annual reports may provide the latest available data, Sierra Club BC claimed the province still isn’t explicitly stating what action it would take to get the province to its various targets.

The environmental groups say the public has the right to know whether B.C. is adhering to its own rules, and will find out through litigation whether the “missing” climate plans exist.

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The province has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 16 per cent below 2007 levels by 2025, 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040, and 80 per cent by 2050.

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