Today, after many months of delay (on a Friday afternoon in summer), the BC government finally released an updated “Climate Leadership Plan.” Except it isn’t one.
It’s not a plan, it’s not leadership, and it doesn’t get us nearly where we need to go on climate action. I see no notable shift from what I wrote back in May, when I accused the BC Government of being a “climate outlaw.”
It’s not a plan, it’s not leadership, and it doesn’t get us nearly where we need to go on climate action.
If we were to take this statement at face value, the news is bad enough. GHG emissions in BC today are about 63 million tones (MT). Therefore a reduction of 25 MT by 2050 is a reduction of about 40%. But the government’s legislated target is to reduce GHG by 80% by 2050 (which is itself insufficient, as we need to be fossil fuel free by then). So today’s announcement, under the best-case scenario, gets us only halfway to our legal target.
But notice the weasel words in today’s commitment: “net”, “up to”, and “below current forecasts.”
Currently, under status quo projections, GHG emissions are expected to rise. So a 25 MT reduction below current forecasts could actually mean GHGs in 2050 will be higher than today.
But I’m afraid the news is worse. Virtually all the measures announced today will have a marginal impact on GHGs. This is revealed in the most telling table in the government plan, found on the plan’s last page (p. 47). There we learn that half (12 MT) the projected GHG emission reductions in the plan are to come from better forest management and tree planting.
A 25 MT reduction below current forecasts could actually mean GHGs in 2050 will be higher than today.
Moreover, staking half your climate plan on forestry is highly risky. As we’ve unfortunately learned in recent years, forest fires and beetle epidemics can quickly turn our forests from carbon sinks into carbon sources, as burned and dead trees release all the carbon they store. And in a climate-changing world, the likelihood of both these risks only rises.
For an excellent analysis of why today’s plan fails the leadership test, see this post from Clean Energy Canada.
The environmentalists who served on the BC government’s Climate Leadership Team (CLT) are now deeply disappointed. Tzeporah Berman tweeted today, “I sat on the BC Climate Leadership Team. Number of our 32 recommendations accepted in full today? Zero.”
— Tzeporah Berman (@Tzeporah) August 19, 2016
As has been widely reported, today’s plan has nothing on carbon pricing, even though annual increases to the carbon tax was the centrepiece of the CLT’s recommendations.
Those who gave their time to this “plan” have to be feeling very used. They contributed a great deal of time and produced a report last October—which the Premier was happy to wave around in Paris the next month—and then she shelved it.
This is not climate leadership.
Topics: Climate change & energy policy