Opinion

Does B.C. still have a climate-change agenda?

There’s a certain irony that the NDP leadership candidates have committed to continue with B.C.’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 B.C. at a competitive disadvantage.

He also appeared to agree with the strong lobby by the business community, which wants B.C. to “pause and reset” its climate change goals.

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.

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 six per cent in 2012, 18 per cent in 2016, 33 per cent in 2020, and 80 per cent 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” B.C.’s climate-change agenda, then a citizen’s assembly may be the most democratic way to engage all British Columbians in this critical work.

Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.

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