On climate, B.C. budget takes steps in right direction

Government to develop roadmap for future of energy in B.C.

Generating more clean electricity is one of the keys to unlocking B.C.'s low-carbon future. Photo: Stephen Hui, Pembina Institute

Earlier this year, I penned an op-ed outlining six ways that B.C. can defend the climate and economy in 2018.

With the release of this year’s throne speech and budget, what progress has the B.C. government made so far?

Here’s a list of throne speech and budget commitments that align with our recommendations.

1. Plan for a smooth transition from oil and gas to clean electricity

  • $4 million over three years for the development of an “energy roadmap” for B.C.’s low-carbon future — with the aim of spurring innovation, expanding energy-efficiency programs, generating new energy in a sustainable manner, and creating jobs across the province

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2. Set climate targets for industry, transportation, and buildings

  • This priority was mentioned in Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman’s mandate letter; we are still waiting for action on this

3. Lay out a strategy to cut carbon pollution from existing homes and buildings

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4. Strengthen B.C.’s tax on carbon pollution

  • Starting April 1, B.C.’s carbon tax will increase by $5 per year through 2022
  • Revenue from carbon tax increases will fund:
    • $40 million per year to enhance the low income climate action tax credit
    • A proposed clean growth incentive program to help large industrial emitters maintain their competitiveness while reducing carbon pollution
    • New green initiatives to be planned in consultation with the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council

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5. Make more clean transportation options available

  • A commitment to fund 40 per cent of the costs of the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council’s 10-year plan

6. Deliver a credible plan to achieve our climate targets

  • A promise to “take steps to meet our climate targets” through a new climate plan to be devised over the coming months

These commitments represent significant stepping stones on the path to clean growth in B.C. We’ll be looking for the province to deliver a forward-thinking climate strategy and make further investments in climate action later this year. 

Karen Tam Wu is acting B.C. director at the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading clean energy think-tank, and a member of B.C.’s Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council.

This article appeared on The Energy Collective on March 2, 2018.