Christy Clark Gives Up Climate Change Battle
BC’s brief commitment to action ends with launch of ‘leadership plan’ that rejects expert panel’s advice.
The BC Liberals’ latest Climate Leadership Plan marks the end of the government’s commitment to any serious effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The 52-page document has a classically Orwellian name.
There is no “leadership” — Premier Christy Clark rejects that role for B.C., saying the province has to wait and see what happens in other jurisdictions.
And there is no “plan,” just lots of photos, paragraphs and words that set out shiny, vague hopes for the distant future.
Climate change mattered to the government for a few years. In 2007, then-premier Gordon Campbell got religious on global warming after treating the issue as irrelevant for six years. He had read some enlightening books, he said in explaining his conversion, and was shocked by China’s sprawling, polluted cities on a 2006 trade visit. (Campbell had also noticed that California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rode the issue to a big election victory. Schwarzegger’s chief environmental advisor Terry Tamminen was quietly brought in to help the Liberals develop their plan.)
Campbell, who had opposed ratification of the Kyoto accord on climate change a few years earlier, said the battle against climate change was as important to the planet’s future as the last two world wars.
The government followed up with a plan in 2008, with specific targets. By 2012, emissions would be cut to six per cent below 2007 levels. By 2016, to 18 per cent. And by 2020, to 33 per cent. By 2050, they would be 80 per cent lower than they were in 2007.
An action plan — starting with a carbon tax — was created to achieve the goals.
The government met the 2012 commitment, helped by the 2008 global recession.
By the province’s count, emissions fell from 64.3 megatonnes to 60.5 megatonnes (including one megatonne in forestry offsets) — 5.9 per cent, close enough to claim success. (Though hardly a grand achievement — Canadian emissions declined 5.3 per cent in the same period without a carbon tax or climate plan.)
But the government has no chance of coming close to meeting this year’s target, which called for carbon emissions of 52.7 megatonnes. Statistics Canada reported B.C.’s 2014 emissions at 62.9 megatonnes — up from 2012.
Which in turn means the government has no chance of meeting its 2020 commitment to cut emissions to 43.1 megatonnes. That’s a big failure, as the reduction is required under the Liberals’ own legislation.
A government serious about leading in the effort to slow global warming would produce a credible new plan to meet the objectives.
But Clark, at a slickly staged, expensive and empty announcement in a warehouse, took a different approach. She abandoned the targets and bailed on the climate issue.
The new Climate Leadership Plan pretends the 2016 and 2020 commitments don’t exist. It focuses on 2050, but offers no plan to meet that target.