This week was a clear reminder of why I decided to run for office.
Back in 2008, I had the honour of working with then Premier Gordon Campbell, his Minister of Environment, the Honourable Barry Penner and the Climate Action Team to outline clear, bold and practical steps that we as a province could take to address global warming.
Together with government, academics, industry leaders, and First Nations, we developed a suite of policies that would allow us to reduce our carbon emissions while supporting strong economic growth. Six years later, British Columbia’s climate policies were still seen as leading the way in North America.
On Monday the Liberal government tabled a bill that threatens to undermine that success.
Bill 2: The Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act would see British Columbia repeal legislation that would have enabled us to enter a cap and trade framework with our Pacific Coast climate action partners. In its place, we would adopt new legislation that would see us embrace what’s called an “emissions intensity” scheme along the lines of what Alberta and the Harper Tories have done.
Whereas a cap and trade framework would force us to reduce the total amount of carbon we emit into the atmosphere, an emissions intensity scheme would only require businesses to reduce the amount of carbon produced in liquefying a specified quantity of natural gas.
Here’s the problem: Our climate doesn’t care about emissions intensity. Our climate cares about the overall magnitude of emissions. If we increase the production of LNG, even if it is produced more and more efficiently, emissions are still going up. Ultimately, the climate only cares about the total amount of carbon pollution a facility would release and how much carbon pollution is in our atmosphere.
An emissions intensity scheme wouldn’t limit the overall carbon emissions. That’s why if you compare Alberta’s emissions to British Columbia’s, you will see that while British Columbia’s emissions decreased in the last few years, Alberta’s increased.
So why are we going down this path? Because the government knows that emissions are going to skyrocket if we develop our LNG industry. And an Alberta or Harper Government style emissions intensity model will provide the illusion of action on global warming at the same time as our overall magnitude of carbon emissions continue to increase. That’s all this is: The illusion of action.
The simple fact is, if we pass this bill, we may as well say goodbye to all of the progress we have made, for we will be stepping into a new era as one of the most polluting provinces in Canada.
As part of the debate on this Bill, I introduced an amendment that proposed that the Legislature delay debate on this Bill for 6 months. This would allow us as MLAs to put more time and thought into this Bill, and to ensure that we have carefully thought through the consequences of losing our leadership in addressing global warming. My amendment was voted down 40 to 28, with the BC NDP voting in support of the amendment.
Here is a quick guide to my four main areas of critique for this piece of legislation.
Media Statement: October 22, 2014
MLA Weaver Tables Amendment to LNG Emissions Act
For immediate release
Victoria, B.C. – The B.C. Government’s proposed Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act (Bill 2) is a rushed piece of legislation that undermines our climate leadership and puts our ability to reduce future emissions at risk, says Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay – Gordon Head and Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
Today in the legislature, Andrew Weaver spoke to his concerns and submitted a hoist amendment that called for the bill to be delayed by 6 months to give MLAs and the public more time to scrutinize it.
The bill, which went into second reading today, would see British Columbia adopt an Alberta-style emissions intensity framework. This framework would allow overall emissions to increase in the Province, even as the Government would be taking credit for a reduction in the emissions intensity.
“Our climate cares very little for accounting tricks,” said Andrew weaver. “If we are going to take our responsibility to tackle climate change seriously, the only thing that truly matters is whether we are reducing the quantity of carbon emissions we are releasing. This bill won’t do that.”
Another major concern with the Bill is the apparent “blank-cheque” that it awards government. The legislation would effectively allow cabinet to re-write major sections of the legislation through regulations without the scrutiny of the House. British Columbians will not know many crucial details until well after Bill 2 is passed, and the Government will have avoided essential scrutiny that only the House can provide.
Finally, the bill would repeal the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Cap and Trade) Act (2007) that was passed to enable a regional cap and trade framework with other jurisdictions including California, Oregon and Washington.
“It has become a political necessity for this government to land LNG, no matter what the cost is to British Columbians. With Bill 2, the cost may be our leadership in the fight on global warming,” said Andrew Weaver. “This Bill is asking us to choose between continuing forward with a singular focus on LNG, or taking seriously our responsibility to reduce this province’s Greenhouse gas emissions. Under this proposed legislation it will be impossible for us to have it both ways.”
Weaver’s amendment was voted down 28 to 40 with the BC NDP voting in support of the amendment.
Mat Wright – Press Secretary, Andrew Weaver MLA
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