Crawl Across the Ocean

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

B.C. Getting Serious About Climate Change?

I didn't want to let B.C. premier Gordon Campbell's remarkable throne speech today go unremarked. Remarkable because of the sudden emphasis on taking action on the climate change file.

The media headlines are generally about promises of X% on cuts by year Y but these promises hold little interest for me because they are too far away, and too uncertain to really mean anything.

What interests me are specifics, especially specfics related to concrete achievable measures with timelines beginning either right away or as close as could reasonably be achieved. On that front, Campbell's speech did have merit. The statement that, ""Effective immediately, B.C. will become the first jurisdiction in North America, if not the world, to require 100 per cent carbon sequestration for any coal-fired electricity project," sent a pretty clear signal, I thought, and certainly puts the future of BC Hydro's two proposed coal power plants into doubt (where it should be). A promise of new tailpipe emission standards and continued incentives for hybrid cars are also fairly specific concrete steps that can and should be taken.

Opposition leader Carole James' comment that, "I want to see some specifics, I want to see enforcement, I want to see teeth in these targets, and I didn't hear that in the throne speech today." was pretty on target, but nonetheless, there were more specifics than you often get in a throne speech and there was enough there that I'll be watching to see just what makes it into this year's budget. B.C.'s next election is still two years away so that should give plenty of time to assess whether Campbell is putting hard action behind the easy words or not. Let's hope so. There's no reason B.C. can't be a world leader on this front.

4 Comments:

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but B.C. has it fairly easy compared to many provinces in this regard due to a reliance on hydroelectric generation instead of coal-fired plants. If so, the premier's announcement isn't quite as bold as perhaps it could be.

    Still - it's never bad news when a jurisdiction starts to be more environmentally conscious. Heavier regulations on vehicles is certainly a good step.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 4:41 AM  

  • You're right Andrew but BC has run out of cheap hydro opportunities so future power needs must be met with something other than hydro.

    Declan - what we are seeing federally and provincially is nothing more than co-option at its finest. The entrenched parties can see the writing on the wall vis à vis the Green Party and are struggling for ways to appear Green in order to prevent being obliterated in future elections. It's clear from polls hat the environment is number 1 on the list of things important to Canadians now. Hopefully this awareness in the body politic is not a passing media fancy but for real. I still have hopes that the Green Party will start electing significant numbers of MLAs and MPs to put pressure on old line parties to truly change their stripes. Until then I'm inclined to believe their protestations of change are more facile than a revelation of having "seen the light".

    By Anonymous Doug Alder, at 7:01 AM  

  • Andrew - you are right that this makes it easier for B.C. to have lower emissions per capita than, say, Alberta, and I agree that the bit about being North America's first jurisdiction with no coal emissions was a bit of grandstanding. On the other hand, it makes it harder for B.C. to *reduce* it's emissions because we don't have the relatively easy option of closing our coal plants.

    Doug - I agree. But without electoral reform, co-option might just be the optimal scenario - for the planet if not for our politics. Of course, the main thing is not to fall for the bait and switch where the politicians say one thing to get elected and do another once in power - hence the skeptical tone of my post.

    By Blogger Declan, at 7:06 PM  

  • > "There's no reason B.C. can't be a world leader on this front."

    You're right. And, there is a real growing momentum in this area in BC and among CEO's positioning in BC. A bit of good news.

    By Blogger KevinG, at 6:30 PM  

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