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B.C. NDP reveals its Clean BC plan on climate change

But the costs of the ambitious document won’t be known until next year’s budget is introduced

The B.C. NDP government plans to shift transportation, housing and industry away from fossil fuels to combat the impacts of climate change.

Premier John Horgan announced the Clean BC plan on Wednesday alongside Environment Minister George Heyman and Green Leader Andrew Weaver. 

“Let’s get busy to make life better for British Columbians,” Horgan told media.

The plan calls for net-zero energy-ready new buildings by 2032, zero-emission new vehicles by 2040 and other measures to help the province reach 74 per cent of its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. The plan does not pave way for the province to reach its full goal, which will jump to 80 per cent reduction in 2050.

Weaver said there remain 6.1-megatonnes of carbon pollution to reduce in the next 12 years and noted an impending LNG project, which recently got the green light in northern B.C., accounts for about four megatonnes.

“I still to this day believe that will never get built,” he said.

Weaver said the Clean BC plan is a culmination of his life’s work as a climate scientist. He left that field to join politics in order to push policy and won a seat in the legislature while largely campaigning on the issue.

“We’re frankly at risk of losing a lot if we don’t stand up and deal with the problem before us,” Weaver said.

Horgan said the impacts of climate change are being felt globally and locally. He pointed to floods, fires and low salmon stocks in B.C. communities as “fundamental issues” that need to be addressed. 

The Clean BC plan has been 16 months in the making, building on work by former B.C. Liberal premier Gordon Campbell, who Horgan praised for providing a “first step” with a tax on carbon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is imposing a tax on carbon nationwide, though some Canadian provinces are opposed to the idea.

No information was released regarding costing out the Clean BC plan, with those details expected to come in February in the 2019 budget. Horgan said he will be meeting with the prime minister later this week and intends to “lean” on Ottawa.

“Our plan will be fully funded,” Horgan said.

Horgan said the plan is one that makes economic sense, taking advantage of B.C.’s abundant electricity, encouraging investment by “new and exciting” industries and creating training spaces for British Columbians in light of the shifts. Asked about potential for job loss by employees in traditional industries, Horgan said: “I don’t think job loss is the question at all. Quite the contrary — how do we train people?”

Heyman said British Columbians want to protect their connection to nature. He will be traveling to Poland to speak with leaders at the United Nations Climate Change conference, which began earlier this week. He said he will be talking about B.C. as a climate action leader.

“As leaders, as government, as people united, we can take action that’s good for the climate, good for the economy and good for people,” Heyman said.

BC Hydro expects to continue plans for electrification in the coming decades, with sufficient power into the 2030s.

Asked how the Clean BC may impact residents, Horgan pointed to changes in affordability when it comes to child care and his government’s pilot project of $10 a day care.

The plan also calls for reductions to the carbon intensity of transportation fuels, funding for home renovations and energy retrofit for existing homes, $400 million to upgrade publicly funded housing and the reduction of residential and industrial organic waste into a clean resource. Additional reduction initiatives will be rolled out over the next two years.

Meanwhile, in Kamloops . . .

The city’s Sustainable Kamloops Plan, which was created in 2010, called for the city to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.

Those numbers suggest residential, commercial, transportation and solid waste in the River City results in greater than 650,000 tonnes per year, with larger industrial operations resulting in an additional 300,000 tonnes of GHGs per year and municipal operations adding 8,500 tonnes. 

Coun. Arjun Singh has advocated for climate action, but does not think the city is on pace to meet its goals.

“It’s been challenging, I think,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to reach that goal, my sense of it.”

He noted efforts by the city have included adding electric vehicles to its municipal fleet and working toward implementing the BC Energy Step Code.

“From a local perspective, we’ve been working really hard over the last few years,” he said.