Lawyers with West Coast Environmental Law applauded BC’s Budget 2019 for delivering on funding promises to implement the government’s climate plan, CleanBC. The organization argued that funding aggressive climate action makes sense both economically and environmentally but cautioned that there needs to be greater urgency across government to achieve BC’s climate goals.
“BC is a place that environmentally-minded businesses will want to invest because of our beautiful natural environment, plentiful resources, and renewable energy,” said Andrew Gage, staff lawyer. “Budget 2019 builds on that advantage by funding an aggressive path to further lower our provincial greenhouse gas pollution.”
Highlights of the CleanBC plan include ensuring every new car sold in BC by 2040 will be a zero-emission vehicle, thanks to incentive programs and abundant charging stations.
The Province is also speeding up the switch to cleaner fuels at the gas pump with further reductions to the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. Every new building constructed in BC will be “net-zero energy ready” by 2032, and in the meantime, the government is requiring new buildings to be more efficient and ramping up funding for renovations and energy retrofits to existing homes and offices.
The plan was developed as a pathway to achieve the Province’s legislated climate targets of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 per cent by the year 2030, based on 2007 levels. The plan describes and quantifies measures that will eliminate 18.9 megatonnes (Mt) of its 2030 target. Remaining reduction initiatives will be quantified over the next 18 to 24 months.
Training British Columbians to work in a low carbon economy, funding public transit, and retrofitting buildings are important ways Budget 2019 reasserts BC’s position as a North American leader on climate change, said Gage. “These initiatives are expected to create thousands of good paying jobs for British Columbians.”
BC Premier John Horgan agreed, adding that more job opportunities in the low-carbon economy means people can live and work with greater security in the communities they call home.
“By moving to clean, renewable energy – like our abundant supply of BC electricity–we can power our growing economy and make life better and more affordable for British Columbians,” said Horgan.
The premier said the government will first focus primarily on reducing climate pollution by shifting homes, vehicles, industry, and business off burning fossil fuels and toward greater use of electricity and other renewable energies; boosting energy-efficient solutions, like zero-emission vehicles and home heat pumps, by making them more affordable and available for British Columbians; and becoming a destination for new investment and industry looking to meet the growing global demand for low-carbon products, services, and pollution-reducing technologies.
“With CleanBC, British Columbia is rising to the challenge of climate change,” Premier Horgan said. “Every year, we’re seeing the unprecedented wildfires and floods that hurt so many people, communities and businesses. We need to begin changing how we live, work, and commute to put BC on a cleaner, more sustainable path.”
Gage said these initiatives are positive, but he cautioned that more needs to be done to achieve the province’s climate goals and to ensure all ministries are treating climate change as an emergency.
“Right now, some ministries and some parts of Budget 2019 are actively working against those goals—for example, with subsidies for liquefied natural gas projects,” Gage said. “All government ministries need to work together if BC is going to be a true climate leader.”
Gage argued that commitments to ongoing auditing and planning in CleanBC, if implemented, could help ensure that all government ministries do their part to achieve the province’s climate goals.
In addition to the CleanBC funding in Budget 2019, West Coast Environmental Law also applauds funding for environmental assessment revitalization; ensuring oversight of resource professions; increased environmental oversight in mining; and increased monitoring of polluting industries.