CCPA Policy Note

Tea Party Tactics

February 7th, 2013 · · 3 Comments · Environment, resources & sustainability

There is no question that climate change is one of the major issues of our time . And we do need to challenge our political leaders to state clearly what plans and strategies they have both to reduce GHG emissions and to prepare for the changes that are already happening and likely to intensify. However, the call being led by CCPA for our provincial party leaders to pledge they will maintain the reduction targets legislated by the Campbell government is not, in my view, the way to go.

We never had a transparent analysis and public policy debate about the specific targets and accompanying measures that Campbell brought in. What we do know is that all under the cover of his GHG plan Campbell forced BC Hydro to buy run-of-river power it did not need with significant adverse environmental as well as economic effects. And he forced schools, hospitals and other public agencies to offset all of their GHG emissions even though in many instances that simply transferred scarce public sector resources to private companies so the private companies could reduce their emissions.

Before we demand our political leaders to commit to specific reduction targets we need to know what that means. Will it force BC Hydro to build Site C and new transmission lines in order to supply clean energy to new LNG plants. Or will it simply mean the winding down of our natural gas industry, with no access to high valued markets. If it does I suspect it wouldn’t have the support of most British Columbians, nor in many ways should it.

There is so much we can and should do in energy conservation, public transportation, the regulation and capping of industrial emissions, adaptation, emergency preparedness and other areas. Let’s get our political leaders to commit to measures and investments that will reduce GHG emissions and/or mitigate the effects of climate change, and demonstrably benefit British Columbians well in excess of the costs they entail. But let’s not force politicians to pledge allegiance to a specific number that may or may not be in the best interests of British Columbians — or more to the point, that may cause politicians to do things that clearly are not in the best interests of British Columbians all under the cover of the pledge.

The Tea Party effectively used simple tax pledges to prevent their politicians from thinking about what they were doing. Demanding pledges to a number may be a very  effective political tactic, but it is not likely to lead to good public policy.


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    3 Comments so far ↓

    • Marc Lee

      It is worth noting that BC’s current Climate Action Plan does not get us to the 2020 targets, which is why we need this debate. But the BC government did create a Climate Action Team to bridge the gap, and its report is here:

      The trouble is their recommendations were not implemented. Also check out a great report by the Pembina Institute that addresses the gap:

      And of course, our Climate Justice Project reports:

    • Marc Lee

      So Marvin, you are saying BC should not have a frank conversation about how we meet our 2020 GHG targets? Should this election ignore the most pressing issue of our times, as the US elections did last year? Should we repeal the 2007 law in favour of vague promises and platitudes?

      It is worth noting that as of 2010, BC had reduced its emissions by 4.5%, and is on pace to meet its 2012 interim target of a 6% reduction. The 2020 target is within reach, if we do not do foolish things like increased fracking and LNG exports. We just want parties to talk about their plans for getting there.

      It is fair to criticize aspects of what the Liberals have done on climate action. But I’d love your thoughts on what we should do to (eventually) reduce our emissions to zero. For example, do you think BC should embark on its Natural Gas Strategy, which his like adding 24 million cars to the roads of the world?

      I’ve spent the past six years of my research life showing that the change we need to make it possible, and how we can get there. If you disagree and have alternatives, let’s hear them. But let’s make that the conversation we have on this blog.

      • Marvin Shaffer

        As I said in my blog, we do need to press politicians to state what they plan to do to reduce GHG emissions. and mitigate the effects of climate change already underway. We need the serious conversation on this important policy issue.
        But what I don’t support is narrowing that discussion to: how BC can meet the targets that were passed in 2007 — targets that established without any proper analysis and broad public debate about what they mean — what measures they would require.
        You are convinced that BC should not expand natural gas production or LNG exports, all under the cover of achieving the Campbell’s targets. I don’t want politicians to jump to that conclusion -I would want to see the independent technical and policy analysis indicating whether it can be done safely and whether the benefits of such activity, taking all things into account, outweigh the costs.
        I see the pledge you are seeking as narrowing, not enabling the full discussion and debate we need.