On November 30, B.C. premier Christy Clark will accompany Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to France for the United Nations conference on climate change.
The meeting—convened with the ambitious goal of drafting a legally binding agreement on greenhouse-gas emissions—will see Clark take something of a leadership role on the environment. She inherited the province’s carbon tax from former Liberal premier Gordon Campbell, and that policy has earned B.C. international recognition for reining in fossil-fuel pollution without damaging the economy.
But a number of organizations—such as the City of Vancouver, UBC, and Concert Properties—are calling on Clark to do more to prove B.C. deserves that position of leadership.
Karen Tam Wu, program director of building and urban solutions with the Pembina Institute, told the Straight there is a disconnect between the province’s green image and the premier’s enthusiasm for liquefied natural gas (LNG).
“To be blunt, the way that B.C. is planning to develop LNG—to their ideal of three LNG terminals—we are going to have a really hard time meeting our climate targets,” she said.
Tam Wu said there is time for B.C. to change its policies on natural gas, noting the province is still drafting a “climate leadership plan”. That document, which enters a second round of public consultation this December, will outline how B.C. intends to reduce carbon emissions to 33 percent below 2007 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 2007 levels by 2050.
She suggested that B.C. has a new and unlikely competitor on the climate-change front: Alberta. On November 22, Premier Rachel Notley unveiled plans to see her province introduce its own carbon tax (technically a levy, starting at $20 per tonne and climbing to $30 by 2018) and place a cap on total oilsands emissions of 100 megatonnes per year.
Tam Wu described those measures as “unimaginable” before the NDP took power in Alberta last June.
“What B.C. should be doing is looking at how we can also come up with something that is equally unimaginable,” she said. Tam Wu maintained that means forgetting about LNG.
“What we really need to do is look at how we, as a province, are moving off of fossil fuels, not developing new fossil fuels,” she said.