British Columbia Government Releases Its Climate Leadership Plan

By David Stevens on August 25, 2016

On August 19, 2016, the British Columbia (BC) government released its Climate Leadership Plan. The Climate Leadership Plan is an update to the BC government’s 2008 Climate Action Plan, and it implements some of the recommendations made by the “Climate Leadership Team” that was established by the BC Government in 2015 to review options for economic development and greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, and make recommendations for the new Plan. As set out in the BC government’s news release, the BC government confirms the commitment to achieve its 2050 target of an 80% reduction in emissions from 2007 levels. As noted in published news articles and commentary (see, for example, here and here), this focus on targets for 2050, instead of nearer term goals for 2020 or 2030, is a departure from the 2008 Climate Action Plan and the recommendations made by the “Climate Leadership Team.

The 2016 Climate Leadership Plan continues the carbon tax model that has been in place in BC since 2008. However, the BC government has decided that the carbon tax will be frozen at $30 per tonne. This is the same level as has been in place since 2012. The decision not to increase the carbon tax is at odds with the recommendations made by the “Climate Leadership Team.” The suggestion in the 2016 Climate Leadership Plan is that the carbon tax price will only be increased if other jurisdictions follow suit.

The 2016 Climate Leadership Plan also includes 21 “action items” in areas such as natural gas, transportation, industry, and utilities and buildings. According to the BC government, the 2016 Climate Leadership Plan will reduce net annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 million tonnes below current forecasts by 2050.

It is not clear how the 2016 Climate Leadership Plan will impact on the numerous liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects that have been planned in BC. Critics have noted (see here) that it will be very difficult for BC to meet emissions reduction targets if the largest of these projects proceed. Currently, it is not clear which, if any, of the LNG projects will proceed. According to a recent news article, none of the proponents of BC LNG projects that have been proposed (and in some cases approved) have made their “final investment decision.”

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