May 9, 2013

Comparing platforms with respect to climate action


As many readers of this blog will know, back in February the CCPA (with the assistance of a number of our partners in the Climate Justice Project) published an Open Letter to the BC political parties calling on them to recommit to BC’s legislated greenhouse gas reduction targets, and to table plans for how to achieve them. The GHG reduction law was passed in 2007, and obliged the government to reduce BC’s emissions by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020, and 80% below by 2050.

You can find the open letter here.

Over 65 organizations signed that open letter, representing thousands of British Columbians.

Climate issues have indeed received some welcome profile in this election, and in some of the platforms. Consequently, it is possible to offer some assessment of where the parties have landed with respect to climate action.

Our friends at the Pembina Institute have published a very helpful platform analysis, which you can find here.

Pembina’s analysis includes a useful matrix analyzing the platforms with respect to a few key action areas. But I thought I’d offer below my own quick assessment, with particular reference to the call in the open letter. With respect to re-committing to BC’s 2007 legislated GHG reduction targets:

  • The Liberal platform is silent on this. They highlight past actions (such as introducing the carbon tax), but do not explicitly re-commit to the law.  And their platform centers around a dramatic increase in natural gas production and LNG development, which would make honouring the law effectively impossible (as Marc Lee explains in a report you can find here).
  • The NDP platform does re-commit to the law. It states an NDP government will: “Renew BC’s Climate Action Plan to meet BC’s legislated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and lead the call for a national energy and climate strategy.” The platform includes some other specific measures, including some green infrastructure investments and expanding the carbon tax to cover vented emission from natural gas production (an important move). And notably, the NDP has stated clearly that it opposes the expansion of both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines (a welcome move that shows they have listened to the growing opposition to increased tanker traffic). That said, these plans alone are unlikely to get the province to the 2020 legislated GHG targets. And while the NDP do not present the same unbridled enthusiasm for LNG as the Liberals, they are supportive of LNG development, which if realized is at odds with meeting the GHG targets.
  • The Green Party also re-commits to law, and spells out numerous policies for the province to reach the targets, including continued increases to the carbon tax. And unlike the other parties, they have a stronger position against fracking shale gas and LNG.  The Green Party formally responded to our Open Letter, and their response is posted on the page linked to above.
  • The Conservatives makes no commitment to the GHG reduction law, and elements of the platform  — such as eliminating the carbon tax and expanding oil pipelines — would take the province in the opposite direction. 

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