Bob Simpson MLA: Does BC Still Have a Climate Change Agenda?

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There’s a certain irony that the NDP leadership candidates have committed to continue with BC’s carbon tax, while it’s uncertain what the new Premier is going to do with the tax. Or, her predecessor’s entire climate change agenda for that matter.

During the Liberal leadership contest Kevin Falcon stated he believed the carbon tax put BC at a competitive disadvantage. He also appeared to agree with the strong lobby by the business community which wants BC to “pause and reset” it’s climate change goals.

As a leadership candidate, George Abbott said he thought British Columbians should have a say in the future of the carbon tax, suggesting it should be included in the HST referendum. A suggestion Christy Clark dismissed, while failing to give any real sense of her own climate change agenda.

Like the HST, it would have been more democratic if British Columbians had been given an opportunity to have a say in the carbon tax and GHG reduction targets prior to establishing them in law. But, like most new initiatives by former Premier Campbell, the work leading up to BC legislating targets and a carbon tax was done in secret.

Just as we need clarity on the future of HST, we need certainty on the future of the carbon tax. We also need to know what Premier Clark is going do to about the laudable, but unattainable and unrealistic GHG targets Mr. Campbell entrenched in law.

All provincial government agencies had to be carbon neutral by 2010 – they now divert money from their limited funding to the Pacific Carbon Trust to support private sector GHG reduction projects.

The province, by law, must still reduce total GHG emissions below 2007 levels: by 6% in 2012, 18% in 2016, 33% in 2020, and 80% in 2050.

Meanwhile, the provincial government subsidizes fracking deep shale gas in the Peace, a process which emits massive amounts of GHGs. It allows the burning of huge piles of wood waste in our public forests. Supports for GHG reductions at the household level have been cancelled, in large part as a result of the HST. And, public transit is grossly underfunded.

Government activities are clearly at cross-purposes with its legal requirement to reduce GHGs.

NDP leadership candidate Nicholas Simons has suggested we need a Citizen’s Assembly on Climate Change. If we are going to “pause and reset” BC’s climate change agenda, then a Citizen’s Assembly may be the most democratic way to engage all British Columbians in this critical work.

Reprinted with permission from Bob Simpson’s blog.

About the author

Bob Simpson was re-elected as the MLA for Cariboo North on May 12, 2009. He was first elected to the Legislature in 2005.

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