British Columbia’s New Climate Change Plan
The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2007 levels by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. That’s the same 2050 goal as BC’s original climate change plan launched back in 2007 by Premier Gordon Campbell. That plan called for a 33% reduction by 2020, a goal widely missed by the Province. To achieve the same 2050 target, reductions under CleanBC will have to be even more dramatic.
The key elements of CleanBC designed to meet these goals are:
- A significant shift away from hydrocarbons and to electricity, including electrification of the gas fields of northeastern BC and processing facilities, and new electrical transmission lines to connect large loads, meaning an increase in electricity demand of 8% by 2030 and significantly more in the longer term.
- Incentives for a reduction in emissions from industrial sources, including using a portion of carbon tax revenue to provide financial incentives for certain industries to reduce emissions and a regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage.
- A push to reduce emissions from the transportation sector 20% by 2030, with 30% of light-duty vehicles being zero-emission by 2030, 100% by 2040, government incentives to buy zero-emission vehicles and support for new charging infrastructure around the Province.
- A plan to improve the energy efficiency of residential housing and commercial buildings by retrofitting, and to require all new buildings to be net-zero energy by 2032 and the phasing out of natural gas heating for commercial buildings.
- Increasing renewable fuels in consumer gas products, meaning a 15% renewable gas content requirement for natural gas, more biofuels at the pump, and an increase in the low carbon fuel standard from 10% to 20% by 2030.
- Diverting 95% of organic waste from landfills and converting it to new products.
The identified measures still fall short of the 2030 goal. The government intends to identify and announce additional measures to make up the 25% gap within the next two years. That will leave less than 10 years to achieve these targets. The costs of CleanBC are not yet known. Some of those details are expected in February’s budget.
CleanBC presents laudable goals, but as we have seen before, it is easy to announce aggressive reductions to emissions to be achieved in the future; it is quite another thing to actually achieve them. Nevertheless, the plan is a clear indication of government policy in a number of key areas — policies that are not limited to environmental measures, but include a broad economic framework for the Province in the years to come. All businesses operating in British Columbia should take note and follow the development of these policies going forward. They are sure to have broad implications for the Provincial economy, far beyond the identified climate change goals, including presenting opportunities for emerging technologies and services that are able to deliver these measures.
For further questions regarding CleanBC and possible implications for your business, please contact one of the authors or your Fasken relationship partner.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
About the authors:
Ron Ezekiel, Amy Carruthers and Sarah Martin are lawyers at Fasken.