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British Columbia to set new GHG targets

08 May 2018 20:30 (+01:00 GMT)
British Columbia to set new GHG targets

San Francisco, 8 May (Argus) — British Columbia is moving to scrap an unattainable 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target and adopt new mandates with later deadlines.

The provincial government introduced legislation yesterday that will replace the 2020 target of 33pc reduction from 2007 levels by 2020 with revised targets for 2030 and 2040 of 40pc and 60pc, respectively, which will serve as the foundation for a new climate action strategy.

British Columbia environment minister George Heyman said Bill 34 will drive "credible and achievable climate action" and laid the blame for the repeal of the 2020 target squarely on his predecessors.

"The previous government, after stalling on sustained climate action for several years, admitted they could not meet their 2020 target, and those targets are repealed in this act," he said.

Former premier Gordon Campbell in 2007 set British Columbia on course to reduce GHG emissions 33pc by 2020. But a decision by later Liberal Party governments to freeze the province's carbon tax at C$30/metric tonne ($23.14/t) may have doomed those efforts.

The New Democratic Party government of premier John Horgan raised the tax to C$35/t in April. It will increase by C$5/yr until it reaches C$50/t in 2021, which sets up British Columbia to comply with a federal carbon pricing mandate.

The province's Green Party, which backs the New Democratic Party's minority government, supported the legislation.

The bill "represents a critical first step in putting British Columbia back on track as a leader in climate solutions and the new economy," Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said.

An existing goal of reducing GHGs 80pc by 2050 remains.

The government said it will release a climate action strategy in the fall that focuses on GHG reductions in the buildings, industry and transportation sectors.

Environmental groups applauded the greater focus on those sectors but cautioned that emerging industries could sink the new climate measures.

"Much more should be done to reduce carbon pollution from proposed LNG plants and associated upstream operations," Pembina Institute national policy director Josha MacNab said.

The decision to introduce the bill comes as tensions remain high between British Columbia and neighboring Alberta over a stalled pipeline expansion. Prime minister Justin Trudeau gave his blessing for the Kinder Morgan project to move forward, but Horgan has raised concerns over potential environmental impacts.

The federal government said last week it will intervene in a legal case filed by the British Columbia government that argues the province has the jurisdiction to regulate the flow of oil through its territory.

Kinder Morgan said last month that it will scrap the project unless it receives assurances by 31 May that it can complete the pipeline expansion.