Sunday, September 30, 2007
Declarations of war on climate change are more than just hot air for Premier Gordon Campbell.
They’re going to be the law soon, he says.
In a dizzying array of climate-change promises delivered Friday, Campbell said he will write into legislation greenhouse-gas emission reductions of 33 per cent by 2020.
“This government, this province, will not turn its back on tomorrow’s children,” he told enthusiastic municipal politicians as the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ annual convention wound to a close.
“We intend to act to do our part to fight global warming,” Campbell said.
“We can do this, but it’s going to take a sea change in behaviour.”
Campbell said B.C. got a taste of what climate change could look like — and a last-minute reprieve — with flood threats last spring that could have resulted in “untold billions in damage.”
He also blamed global warming — and government inaction — for the pine-beetle infestation of B.C. forests, which could take billions of dollars to repair.
“We waited for cold winters,” he said. “Cold winters never came.”
Among Campbell’s proposed climate-change measures:
– Requiring “hard caps” on emissions for business, and setting up an emissions-trading system.
– Setting emission caps for key industry sectors that are “economically and fiscally feasible.”
– Making all B.C. government agencies carbon-neutral by 2010.
Campbell also said B.C. Hydro will install 1.7 million “smart metres” to read residential consumption in a manner that homeowners could track, in the hope of reducing energy consumption in homes.
B.C. Hydro intends to introduce differing energy prices, charging more for peak-hour use, he said.
Matt Price of Environmental Defence Canada said Campbell’s plan moves in the right direction.
“I would love to see something hit the ground faster. What is it that we can do tomorrow?” said Price. “The emissions are going up, not down.”
Price also said legislated emission-reductions will work — if there are strong enough penalties.
Ian Bruce, climate-change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation, said legislated emissions cuts are good news for B.C.
“That’s going to send a clear signal to shift our economy into a cleaner-energy economy in the future,” he said.
SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF CAMPBELL’S CLIMATE-CHANGE PLAN:
-Spend $100 million on flood protection over the next decade.
-Allow municipalities to waive development levies for green-building schemes.
-Pass legislation to begin the emissions-reduction plan, which will set legal emissions targets.
-Launch a carbon-trading system next spring.
-Set emissions targets for electricity generation, buildings, industry, transport and waste.
-Ensure the provincial government will be carbon-neutral by 2010, saving as much greenhouse gases as it emits.
-Ensure provincial officials put $25 into a new B.C. Carbon Trust to offset every tonne of greenhouse gas they use in government travel.
-Invest in bio-energy, and recover methane from landfills.
-Install electricity “smart” metres in homes and reward consumers for using less electricity in peak periods.
-Go ahead with public consultations on the Site C dam on the Peace River.
-Spend $250 million on transit, to be announced soon in a new transit plan.
-Ensure all new electricity produced will involve no greenhouse-gas emissions. No coal-fired electricity generation without full carbon sequestration.
-Bring B.C. up to California tailpipe-emission standards, and make it obligatory for car makers to sell fuel-efficient vehicles in B.C.
-Bring in low-carbon, fuel-content standards.
© The Vancouver Province 2007