B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver and Premier John Horgan autograph a copy of the ‘CleanBC’ plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades, Vancouver cabinet office, Dec. 5, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. VIEWS: For 2019, wishful thinking replaces evidence

‘CleanBC’ recycled strategies and gestures don’t help environment

The year 2018 ends in a rush of environmental virtue-signalling that looks to carry on into the new year and beyond, around the world and here in B.C.

Canada’s December delegation to the 24th annual United Nations climate summit in frigid Poland was pared down to 126 warm bodies, from 161 last year. Thousands of delegates (the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted mostly for corruption, civil war and lawless mining, sent almost 300) came up with rules for measuring greenhouse gases, to take effect in 2020. And that’s about it.

Major oil exporting countries including the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked an effort to include in the official statement a goal of weaning the world off fossil fuels. Negotiations for a global emissions trading system that is supposed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars were put off again, to next year’s meeting in Chile.

Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna declared it a success, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a plan to borrow more money and lend it to struggling Alberta oil and gas producers. The decade-long U.S.-directed scheme to “landlock” Western Canadian petroleum resources has now become so glaringly obvious and damaging that even the CBC was forced to report on it.

WATCH: Horgan discusses LNG project in year-end interview

READ MORE: B.C. Greens ‘shocked’ at NDP support for LNG

While the annual circus of unnecessary air travel was going on, the B.C. NDP government unveiled its glossy vision for a “CleanBC” future, to meet the province’s new greenhouse gas reduction target.

Premier John Horgan insists this is the pathway to a 19-million-tonne reduction in B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, even as the province adds a large-scale liquefied natural gas export facility with its main compression works powered by gas.

How is B.C. doing so far, 10 years after leading Canada into a carbon tax strategy? The latest greenhouse gas figures show B.C. emissions increasing. Indeed, the only time they dipped was in a deep world-wide recession that began in late 2008. This is consistent with UN reports that indicate carbon taxes must be vastly greater than what B.C. and lately the rest of Canada have contemplated, to force people off carbon-based fuels.

CleanBC largely doubles down on familiar strategies that haven’t worked. “Low-carbon fuel” regulations are to be stepped up along with the carbon tax, meaning more grain ethanol or recycled cooking oil added to gasoline and diesel. When you count up emissions from growing, harvesting and processing the crops, displacing a small part of petroleum fuel doesn’t add up to much.

B.C. is going to electrify its natural gas industry, or at least the new parts of it. As someone who used to work in a refinery, I’m wondering how remote drill rigs and sour gas processing plants will operate without burning their own gas.

Oh, and in CleanBC, you’ll be discouraged from burning natural gas to heat your home too. You need a heat pump, and the increasing carbon tax you pay will go into subsidies for this technology.

Long-time B.C. residents may recall getting a cheque in the mail from the Gordon Campbell government, a “climate action rebate” that arrived not long before the 2009 election. This strategy is going national, coincidentally just in time for the 2019 federal election. Trudeau has said the national carbon tax he is imposing will result in most people being money ahead, as Canada tinkers with annual emissions that amount to a few days worth of China’s output.

Happy New Year.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureClimate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

A pair of crashes on Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack have snarled traffic in both directions.
Pair of crashes snarl traffic between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Traffic delays eastbound, large westbound backup

Final numbers won't be known for weeks, but turnout was down across the board in the Fraser Valley and B.C.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
Election turnout down across Fraser Valley and B.C.

Even after thousands of mail-in ballots counted, turnout is likely to fall below 50% in many ridings

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Voters in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Langley may head back to polls in 2021

Election of local politicians in BC vote would trigger by-elections in several Fraser Valley cities

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil forfeiture office alleges $2M Surrey home was used to launder cannabis money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

Most Read