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BC’s so called climate leadership plan – a shocking analysis of what’s to come

It’s been more than seven months since Premier Clark’s Climate Leadership Team released its suite of recommendations for British Columbia’s climate action plan, yet we are still awaiting the government’s response. To provide some context, in an earlier post I noted that the BC Liberals have been inactive on the climate change file for more than three years now. As a province we can no longer claim climate leadership. Wishing it were so does not mean it is so.

On May 16, seven members of that Climate Leadership Team took the unprecedented response of writing a scathing condemnation of the government’s delay. They stated:

You initially committed to having a draft plan in advance of the Paris climate talks last December and a final plan by this March. The draft plan was cancelled and the deadline for the final plan was pushed to June.

The seven signatories further concluded that

The Climate Leadership Team recommendations, implemented in their entirety, provide the blueprint for a B.C. climate plan to put the province back on track for the 2050 and interim 2030 targets. Anything less is not climate leadership.

Well yet another deadline has passed. Nevertheless, here’s what we might expect to see in the government’s “climate leadership plan” — a plan to reach 80% greenhouse gas reductions by 2050 — that will appear in two parts.

The first part will likely be released within two weeks. It will almost certainly involve photo ops with forestry leaders, leaders in cement manufacturing and leaders in the oil and gas sector. A smiling Premier, flanked by the Minister of the Environment will beam as she announces British Columbia’s commitment to climate leadership. She’ll proceed to announce that something like 25% of our 2050 greenhouse gas targets will be met by forestry. And then, in the next breath, the government will announce a major tree planting initiative to reseed forests that were lost by the mountain pine beetle. They’ll claim that they’re creating jobs abound for British Columbians in tree seedling planting and through digging up stumps — jobs for those who were newly re-engineered for the non-existent LNG sector through BC’s skills for jobs blueprint: reengineering education and training.  Millions of dollars of taxpayers money will be committed to reforest an already active forest and then the government will claim that this qualifies them for a carbon credit. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It could only happen in British Columbia.

Sorry, but that emperor has no clothes. I might as well point this out now, before the province tries to claim that it does. The province never claimed the carbon deficit from the pine beetle destruction in the first place and so cannot claim a carbon credit for its reseeding. This was an existing forest — there is no afforestation involved. Will the province claim a negative carbon credit for the recent forest fires in British Columbia’s northeast? No. Will they claim a negative credit if there is a forest fire after the seedlings are planted? No.

Stop and think about this for a minute. The mountain pine beetle devastated vast quantities of BC’s lodgepole pine forests because of the age profile of the trees combined with multiple warm winters that led to low larvae mortality. Climate change played a role in the destruction of these forests and now the government wants to get credit for replanting them while, get this, continuing to search for the elusive LNG windfall. The irony is baffling.

But it gets worse. Desperate for a consumer of site C power, the government will hail the future electrification of the upstream natural gas industry — an industry that has essentially shut down in northeastern BC because of a glut in global supply. Where there is drilling left, it is for the liquids with the methane in many cases being pumped back underground. This electrification, of course, means more public investment in transmission lines and so forth.

And then, a couple of low hanging fruit regarding methane abatement in the natural gas sector will be announced. We can thank the Trudeau Liberals for initiating this latter small, but positive, development.

So let’s be very clear, when the BC Government announces it’s first phase of its climate leadership plan, it will be nothing short of a colossal failure, spun with photo ops, smiling politicians and glib industry leaders. British Columbians deserve better.

I cannot wait until the fall when part two of the plan is supposed to be announced. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that ends up being delayed until after the Federal Liberals have developed their plans. In the fall, we can look forward to the premier promising climate leadership — but only after the 2017 election.

British Columbians have been sold yet another bill of goods. As I mentioned last year, in my view the well meaning members of the climate leadership team were co-opted to provide the premier with a credibility panel that would allow her to have photo ops at the Paris Climate Conference last fall.

The disastrous approach that this government has taken to climate change mitigation combined with their dismantling of so many of Gordon Campbell’s prior policy initiatives truly underscores that British Columbia has moved from climate leader to climate laggard.

 

13 Comments

  1. Grant Bierlmeier-
    July 10, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Thanks Andrew, as a business development professional in the renewable sector I find it very frustrating that the dual benefits of economic growth and climate leadership are being lost in our province where we were once leaders. It doesn’t have to be so and wasn’t supposed to be.

    On a related topic, as a resident of Oak Bay I am also frustrated by the lack of action on housing here – policy in our region is woefully inadequate to deal with the massive changes underway and the character of our neighbourhoods is under serious threat.

    It seems the tyranny of the status quo is a very credible threat to anyone who attempts to advance an alternate future to address what are obvious future problems. Brexit is unfortunately an example of this tyranny. I fear for my sons futures and for those that resist change I would say that change is inevitable and you can be part of the formation of what the change lols like, or it can be forced upon you. In the end that is the only choice – stopping change is not a choice.

    • July 11, 2016 at 5:18 am

      Grant, I agree with you entirely. With respect to the housing issue, we will be coming out with our platform in the fall on this area. It is a hugely important issue. Andrew

  2. July 10, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Thank you Mr. Weaver. I just continue to hope voters see through the neocon facade. It seems commentary such as Mr. Parfitt’s continues to let us off the hook and give further pause to fundamental change. Change is a constant, let’s learn to love the inevitable and get on with it! I think even the most adamant denier agrees we must make changes in how we treat our only home.

  3. Charles Kelly-
    July 9, 2016 at 6:15 am

    Very insightful and I expect your assessment of what we can expect to be coming forward quite true. The Great Bear Rain Forest will likely be the carbon sink trade off for LNG.
    I have never understood why there is no public debate about the carbon impacts of harvesting wood, in particular in soil and rotting roots and debris. Our landfills are full of rotting wood, producing methane gas. Again, we choose not to see the whole picture.

  4. Dewayne Parfitt-
    July 8, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Well I guess it is time for someone to speak on the other side of the ledger. Firstly, contrary to much public opinion, there may or may not be climate change happening………but I do not believe it is all man made, and I DO NOT believe we have much of an influence in any changes we feel need to be made. What is happening is NOT man made…………it is a natural cycle in earth’s evolution. Are we impacting on this? YES, and YES we should try to mitigate our footprint, but whatever we do will have little impact on any change. This whole rhetoric about climate change and need for investment of HUGE sums of money, and the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs, is just SCARE MONGERING. It will take Trillions of $$ to make any difference, but that difference is so miniscule……….and will to not make any difference. One volcano eruption can undo everything man is trying to fix throughout the world, is minutes. Those promoting the green economy are not doing us any of any favours. Example number 1…….Site C dam………this is the most renewable type of energy we can produce, that will do two things……..#1….provide the power to run our future growth in Green Technology, such as electric cars………#2 be a storage for clean water, which would otherwise just flow down to the ocean. This is the new HUGE NEED………Clean water. …. LNG…….is a form of clean energy despite all the rhetoric to the contrary……..OIL…………we need to have it produced and supply our transition from the old to the new technology…….and pipelines need to transport it……….or continue to import oil from other countries who have a bad environmental record and poor human rights records…………So, we can continue to live this false dream of a Green Economy as proposed, or look at a balanced approach which includes strong tax paying industries who employ our citizens with good high paying jobs and provide the government coffers with the $$ to fund our Education, Health Care and other social support needs………..

    • July 8, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Dewayne, you are of course entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts.

      • Raymond Hoff-
        August 20, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        Thanks, Andrew. I teach my students that there are two important words: knowledge and belief.

        Knowledge is based on measurements and replication and prediction.

        Belief is based on faith.

        You cannot say you believe something without the facts to back you up unless you are asking us to have faith in you.

  5. July 8, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks for the insightful analysis, Andrew. Seems like it’s going to be just as useless as we expected it to be.

    • July 8, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      Yup. It was supposed to be announced next week. Let’s see if they still have the gall to do this.

  6. joe hayward-
    July 7, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I have never been able to figure out where the money this government is taking from taxpayers as a carbon tax is going. Is it being used to reduce carbon or folded into general revenu. Also how can this government go ahead with the site c dam while it is still before the courts,

  7. Bob Nation-
    July 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks very much for this — a helpful summary and very believable. (I don’t understand the significance of the map — why a 90-year projection?)

    • July 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      The map isnt significant. It’s just a picture that shows a climate projection as the subject is on climate

  8. July 7, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for the explanation. There is so much bafflegab it’s hard to figure out what’s really going on.