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Premier Using Smoke and Mirrors on Climate Change File

Today in the legislature I rose to question the premier concerning the fundamental inconsistency in her attempting to claim leadership in climate change mitigation while at the same time touting the development of a hypothetical LNG industry. As you will see from the exchange below, the premier doubles down on the LNG rhetoric. The response was quite disappointing.


Question


A. Weaver: Last week the Premier commented on the wildfire situation in Fort McMurray. Remarkably, she used the disaster as an opportunity to point out the importance of investment in the oil and gas sector. A couple of weeks prior, the Premier told a group in Fort St. John:

If there’s any argument for exporting LNG in helping fight climate change, surely it is all around us when we see these fires burning out of control.

While the scientific community has understood the link between global warming and the increasing occurrence of large wildfires for quite some time, the Premier’s statement is utterly bizarre. It’s about time that this government level with British Columbians and point out that developing an LNG industry in B.C. is simply not compatible with climate leadership.

My question to the Premier is this. How can the Premier continue to talk about showing climate leadership while at the same time completely undermining the climate policies put in place by the previous administration and using every opportunity to promote fossil fuel development in this province?


Answer


Hon. C. Clark: Well, I’m delighted to have a chance to answer the member’s questions, given that I didn’t get that opportunity yesterday. And thanks to the member for the question. He and I, there is no doubt….

Interjections.

Madame Speaker: Members.

Hon. C. Clark: There is no doubt that the member and I have a fundamental disagreement about this. He’s stated his case, and now I’ll state mine, and that is to say that around the world today there are 1,000 coal plants on the books, ready to be built, 150 of them in and around Beijing, in China. The only way that those coal plants will be prevented from being built is if they have an alternative source of energy. And that energy needs to be a transitional fuel that is already in production around the world, which we can get there.

But here’s the problem. We all want to move to renewable energies, and we would all, ultimately…. I know Canada has committed to the international commitment of trying to get off fossil fuels altogether. We are not there yet. And the challenge for humanity today is: how do we make sure that we prevent those coal plants from being built? How do we minimize the GHG emissions that would otherwise be produced in the processing and production of that energy?

British Columbia can play a vital part in that by producing the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet, by producing it in the cleanest method that anyone does around the globe, by shipping it to places like China, displacing much dirtier fuels with this very clean and important transitional fuel and, at the same time, create over 100,000 jobs over 30 years for British Columbians — which I know the members of the opposition, every single day, will stand up and oppose.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: This government has got its own Climate Action Team, and they noted: “New policies have not been added to the original policies, which plateaued in 2012.” In fact, we’ve weakened or repealed a number of these existing policies.

The government really can no longer claim leadership and, frankly, have lost credibility on the climate leadership file. The province has a legislated goal to reduce carbon emissions from the current 62 megatonnes to 43 megatonnes by 2020, and 13 megatonnes by 2050. One single LNG plant would add 15 megatonnes, and every British Columbian would have to provide negative emissions by 2050.

My question to the Premier is this. Will she commit today to abandon this government’s reckless and desperate attempts to land a hypothetical LNG project via a generational sellout and, instead, commit to aggressively increase the price on carbon and begin the transformation of our economy towards a low-carbon future? Or instead, will she continue to do her part to commit the youth of today to a desperate future of species extinction and geopolitical instability?


Answer


Hon. C. Clark: I have to say that was such a long question that it might have been more suited to the estimates process than question period. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to do that today.

I will say this. The investment in British Columbia for LNG so far is not hypothetical. The $20 billion invested in boots on the ground in our province is not hypothetical.

We remain the only jurisdiction in Canada and in North America that has the highest and broadest carbon tax. We are well out in front of any province in this country, any state in the United States, by a long shot.

We continue to maintain the only carbon-neutral government in Canada. We are working to build Site C, which will be a source of clean, low-cost energy for generations to come, despite the opposition of the members across the way. We are poised to make the biggest contribution to fighting climate change that Canada has ever made, with the export of liquefied natural gas.

I know that the forces of no across the way, in the NDP, oppose every step of the way the creation of an LNG industry and the jobs that would come from it for all of those working people around the world. But at least they can admit that while we’re putting…. If they don’t want to put people to work, they should at least join us in wanting to fight climate change by exporting this cleanest fossil fuel on the planet and displacing those dirtier sources of fuel that will otherwise inevitably be built.


Video of the Exchange



Media Release


Media Release: May 12, 2016
Andrew Weaver – Premier using smoke and mirrors on climate file
For Immediate Release

Victoria B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head suggested the Premier has not been forthright when it comes to taking action on Climate Change.

“I was shocked to hear her logic on how burning more fossil fuels is equivalent to taking strong action on climate change,” says Weaver. “The fact is that our Premier has done nothing substantial on the biggest issue facing our global civilization since she was elected.”

As fires raged in the north of the province, the Premier stated in late April that “If there’s any argument for exporting LNG and helping fight climate change, surely it is all around us when we see these fires burning out of control,” she told reporters in Fort St. John.

“Our Premier has her own Climate Leadership Team yet she fails to understand that creating an LNG industry and reducing our emissions are fundamentally incompatible,” argues Weaver. “At every opportunity her government promotes the idea that LNG will combat the climate crisis by displacing coal in Asia, while ignoring the fact that it will drastically increase our own emissions.”

“Notwithstanding the substantial evidence that, when its full life-cycle is accounted for LNG is just as bad coal, she fails to grasp that we can’t claim credit for shipping a “cleaner fuel” when we also ship millions of tonnes of coal out of B.C.,” says Weaver. “It’s just ridiculous to claim that shipping out a fossil fuel is equivalent to climate leadership or that it will do anything to address climate change.”

Today MLA Weaver asked the Premier how her argument makes sense, and if she would support the recommendations of her Climate Leadership Team and take stronger action on climate change. The Climate Leadership Team released its recommendations to government in October 2015.

“I ran for office on this issue because frankly it is the biggest issue facing our global civilization. Our province is already being ravaged by wildfires, floods, and droughts and it’s going to get worse. Yet the government is doing everything it can to exacerbate to the problem for its short-term political gain.”

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Media Contact

Mat Wright – Press Secretary Andrew Weaver MLA
1 250 216 3382
mat.wright@leg.bc.ca

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