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Environment

One of the greatest challenges facing government and business leaders today is ensuring that our economic development is environmentally sustainable. There is a strong demand for public policies on a host of issues, such as water use, air quality, carbon emissions, environmental assessments, bio-diversity and at-risk species. The Council is committed to providing decision makers with responsible, evidence-based advice on how to promote economic development that meets the needs of environmental stewardship.

D'Avignon Op-Ed: Trade deals, infrastructure, national climate framework key for B.C. business (The Hill Times)

Today, some 40 business, First Nations, and community leaders from British Columbia are in Ottawa. Here’s how we can work together with the federal government.

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D'Avignon Op-Ed: LNG deals good for jobs, economy, climate (The Vancouver Sun)

Recent news that two agreements have been reached for the production and sale of made-in-British Columbia Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) adds to the momentum of positive job and economic growth in the province. These export agreements also underscore the role that B.C. and our locally-based companies are playing in providing cleaner burning fuels to growing markets abroad as jurisdictions in Asia and elsewhere transition over time to lower-carbon energy sources.

British Columbia is home to some of the largest and most productive natural gas fields in the world. Since the late 1980s, we have benefited enormously from this resource in terms of jobs, investment and government revenue. For example, when natural gas prices were high in 2005-06, the provincial government collected enough gas royalties to fund the entire post-secondary education system.  

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Air Quality - Where Are We Now? Where Are We Going?

Canada and British Columbia air quality has improved remarkably since the 1970s and has continued to improve from 2000 to today. There has been a steep decline in the quantities of pollutants including particulate matter, ground level ozone, nitrogen oxides, and sulphur dioxides. As a result, we compare favourably with the United States and most other OECD countries.

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BCBC Submission on Climate Leadership Team October 2015 Recommendations

Business Council of British Columbia's submission on the Province of British Columbia's Climate Leadership Team October 2015 Recommendations

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Putting the BC Carbon Price in Perspective

British Columbia’s carbon price as of 2016 is the highest in North America by a wide margin, given its attributes and broad application across most of the province’s economy.

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RELEASE: BCBC welcomes new Advisory Council on Economic Growth

p style="text-align: left;" align="center">Vancouver, BC – March 18, 2016 - The Business Council of British Columbia welcomes the Government of Canada’s new Advisory Council on Economic Growth and looks forward to the opportunity to contribute to a sustainable growth strategy for Canada’s economy. 

In today’s environment of sluggish global growth and a widespread and significant downturn in commodity markets, Canada is facing long-term economic and fiscal challenges stemming from an aging population, lagging productivity and declining private sector capital investment.  The Business Council remains focused on addressing the erosion of Canadian competitiveness and applauds today’s announcement by the government as a positive step to advance those efforts.   

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A New Marine Regulatory Regime on BC’s North and Central Coast?

This issue of the Environment and Energy Bulletin reviews recent and prospective developments on the north and central coast, and considers some implications for the flow of goods and resources that underpin the regional and provincial economy. It also sets out a few key principles that we believe should underpin a stable coastal regulatory regime that supports sustainable economic growth.

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An Overview of Canada’s Environmental Assessment Regime

As the Liberal government takes up the reins in Ottawa, it has signalled a shift in its approach to energy, environment and natural resource development, particularly in the context of resetting relations with Aboriginal peoples.  As it sets out to review Canada’s EA processes, several key principles should be top of mind:

    • The integrity of the regulatory process and institutions are best maintained when they are at arms-length from the political realm.
    • A core purpose of a regulatory body is to evaluate technical matters in an impartial way, free from undue political or stakeholder influence.
    • Regulatory reviews that set (and adhere to) timelines promote certainty for proponents and contribute to a favourable setting for investors.

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Alberta Announces a New Approach to Managing Greenhouse Gases

Our high level summary of the Alberta government’s just announced framework for addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

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The Myth and Reality of a Clean Economy and Jobs

Clean Energy Canada (CEC) recently released a report which purports to show the BC economy will continue to thrive if the province’s carbon tax is steadily ramped up and a long list of additional regulations and other measures are introduced to further reduce carbon emissions in the province.

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Finlayson, Ragan Op-Ed: We need a serious discussion about congestion pricing (Vancouver Sun)

In the past year, public debate in Metro Vancouver has focused heavily on how to pay for new transportation capacity. But there is a critical missing piece in this mobility puzzle. Improved transit services and more investment in roads are needed but they aren’t enough. Experience shows that we can’t just build our way out of gridlock. We won’t solve the problem of traffic congestion without also changing the underlying incentives. That’s why we need a serious discussion about congestion pricing.

This summer’s transit referendum was about how to pay for new transit investments. Its failure doesn’t signal that people are happy being stuck in traffic; nor does it signal that we are using our current infrastructure efficiently. There are several things that pretty much everyone agrees with regarding transportation in Metro Vancouver. First, traffic congestion is extremely costly: time lost in traffic costs people and businesses in the region at least $1.4 billion per year. Second, more and expanded public-transit options are necessary, as are maintenance, repairs and upgrading of existing roads and bridges. Third, those transportation investments somehow will have to be made, for neither businesses nor residents can afford to live without them indefinitely.

Another point of agreement is that traffic congestion is getting worse. Given that Metro Vancouver’s population is projected to grow by about million people over the next 25 years, one can easily imagine how bad things could get. As population and port activities increase, container truck traffic will also grow. Who pays for the time that trucks spend idling on backed-up highways and arterial roads? These time delays raise costs for businesses and increase prices for consumers. We all pay for traffic congestion.

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Carbon Pricing, Fusion Style – Policy Issues to Consider When Carbon Taxes Meet Cap-and-Trade

While there appears to be a growing consensus on the need to price carbon, there is no consensus on the most effective means of doing so – either via taxes or trading schemes.

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Is the Price Right? A Comparison of Carbon Pricing

There is no real mystery to understanding what a carbon tax is – an amount deemed to be the value, or cost, of a tonne of carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of burning fossil fuel.  In BC, policy makers have decided that the cost is CDN$30/tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), which is then translated into an amount per unit of fuel.  The tax is applied broadly to all fossil fuel combustion in the province and, in practice, covers a large majority of the fossil fuels consumed by businesses and households.

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Submission: Climate Leadership Plan Discussion Paper

The Business Council's response to the Province of BC's July 2015 Discussion Paper - Climate Leadership Plan.

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Finlayson Op-Ed: Renewables, fossil fuels will share energy landscape (Business in Vancouver)

Is the world in the midst of an accelerating migration away from fossil fuels toward much greater reliance on carbon-free energy? If one takes seriously the speeches of many politicians or the content found on the web sites of environmental advocacy organizations, the temptation is to answer “yes.” The reality, however, is more complex.

Important shifts in energy production and use are under way, but the magnitude and timing of any overall global “energy transition” are apt to be less dramatic than many believe.  Growing energy demand, the vast scale of the world’s existing energy system, and the tens of trillions of dollars of embedded capital that underpin it all stand in the way of rapid change.  

That said, there is evidence of an incremental move away from fossil fuels as a primary energy source, in favour of low/no-carbon forms of energy.  Over time, natural gas and renewables will comprise rising proportions of the world’s energy supply, while the shares of oil and coal will decline.  However, because energy demand will be increasing and natural gas use is expected to double by 2040, this does not necessarily equate to an absolute reduction in the quantity of fossil fuels in the global energy system in the short- to medium-term.   

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Some Reflections on the Global Energy Transition

Is the world in the midst of a rapidly accelerating migration away from fossil fuels, toward a much greater reliance on carbon-free sources of energy? If one takes seriously the speeches of Environment Ministers or the content found on the web sites of many well-known environmental advocacy organizations, the temptation is to answer “yes.”  The reality, however, is more complex.

In this edition of Environment and Energy Bulletin, Jock Finlayson analyzes the recent projections of three well-respected sources - the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) and British Petroleum (BP).  He concludes that for the world as a whole, there is certainly evidence of an incremental move away from fossil fuels as a primary energy source, in favour of low/no-carbon forms of energy.  However, looking out over the next two decades, the trend-lines point to a real, but far from revolutionary, energy transition, one that is unlikely to entail an absolute reduction in the quantity of fossil fuels produced and consumed globally by 2035 or 2040.

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Jock Finlayson Presentation
Does Canada have an Economic and Environmental Carbon Bubble?
Presented to the Eco-Pragmatism Summit, Vancouver, June 15, 2015

On June 15, 2015, Jock Finlayson participated in a panel debate with Jeff Rubin focused on energy and the economy.  Jock's presentation included a review of the top global oil producers, Canada's place as an energy exporter and  global energy consumption trends. He also looks at energy transitions and some implications of lower fossil fuel prices.

 

 

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Rethinking Social Licence to Operate -- A Concept in Search of Definition and Boundaries

This edition of Environment and Energy Bulletin,  guest authored by David Bursey, a partner with Bennett Jones LLP, examines the evolution of  Social Licence to Operate (SLO) in the approval of resource development projects and its recent rise in popular use.  It then considers how the concept relates to political governance and law.  Finally, it assesses the implications of how SLO is being applied – for good and for bad, but most often without a proper context.

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A Brief Look at the Environmental Goods and Services Sector in British Columbia

There are substantial challenges with establishing a coherent measure of the environmental goods and services (EGS) sector, not only in terms of definitions but also as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product, trade and employment in British Columbia.

For the most part there has always been an EGS sector. Its contribution to the economic activity is already embedded within the system of national accounts (SNA) used by statistical agencies in Canada and other countries. Two examples are water and wastewater treatment, whose contribution to economic activity is already counted as part of utilities or infrastructure spending. Other examples include technologies designed to improve vehicle fuel efficiency or to reduce emissions from power generation; these are captured in the existing data on manufacturing and utilities production and spending. Activities such as consulting and engineering services and hazardous waste management are also included in the SNA.

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Risk: Perception, Reality and the Policy Process

Risk is a socially constructed, complex concept that humans have developed to deal with the fear of unknown events that may happen in their lives.

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