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.
Willingness to Pay
The conversation of late in BC has been about energy and resource development with a “hair on fire” commentary from many quarters and a whole tranche of people who think energy and mining are two evil incarnate activities. Energy and the products of mining produce a vast range of goods and services that we take for granted and that have enabled a rising standard of living for billions of people. We have created some amazing technology and the ability, for the most part, to live a life that is quite comfortable (at least in developed countries), primarily because we have been able to harness energy in its various forms to do work and create things.
The challenging reality of global carbon intensity trends
For policy junkies, politicians and citizens interested in global energy trends and climate change issues, there is one resource that should be on everyone’s required reading list – the reports from the International Energy Agency.
In a policy arena that sees the solution side of climate discussions frequently lost in either inaccessible scientific analyses or passionate values debates that substitute beliefs for fact-based dialogue, the IEA provides a welcome array of carefully calibrated data and analysis of energy production and consumption trends. Using relatively easy-to-understand facts on global energy supply and demand, the IEA grounds its climate change analysis through the lens of real carbon output measures, which are then assessed against carbon output trajectories and the policy pathways required for a transition to lower carbon energy systems.
Thinking About Conservation Policy
Some argue that the pace and scale of changes to the landscape to meet humanity's needs and wants is undermining the ability to sustain ourselves. On a global scale this may be true, but in Canada, with the second largest landmass in the world and only 3.85 people/km2, this is not necessarily the case (although one could argue the corollary, which is that this is exactly why we should set aside more land and protect more species, insects, microorganisms and ecosystems, generally).
Coal in the Local Spotlight
The Mayor or Vancouver recently tabled a motion “to prevent the expansion of, or creation of new, coal export infrastructure within the City of Vancouver”. The Mayor of White Rock has done something similar. Vancouver’s Mayor, the Mayor of Burnaby and the Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation are hosting an event in the near future aimed at rallying support to stop the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Then there are all the various groups and campaigns that seem to spring up around election time which seem to say “no” to just about everything and “yes” to things that cost a lot money (but without any ideas about how to pay for them, e.g., the proposal for a new subway along the Broadway Corridor recently advanced by the City of Vancouver and others).
Submission: Letter to Vancouver City Council re Coal Export Expansion Motion
The Business Council is disappointed that a majority of Vancouver Council voted to adopt the motion on March 13. This submission outlines the views summarized during the Business Council's appearance before City Council's Transportaion, Planning and Environment Committee.
Does Business Care about the Environment??
Yes business people do, absolutely. Where did the view that they don’t’ come from anyway?
Business people live in communities. They are your neighbours, your family, your friends, and maybe even you. You buy things and services from them, you eat and you debate with them over the dinner table, you talk over the fence with them. These aren't people or entities removed from who we are or monsters under the bed.
They aren't strangers.
Often they are entrepreneurs who have seen an opportunity and found a way to supply the rest of us with the goods and services we need and demand, to create jobs and to contribute to the economy of BC and Canada.
Water - Blue Gold
Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink – many will recall the famous musings of English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Mark Twain once remarked, "whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” Both statements are true.
This paper is more of a primer on water and water management than a discussion of policy issues or options, although at the end we touch briefly on the Business Council’s views on water policy in British Columbia, a topic which has been under discussion in connection with the ongoing Water Act reform process.
Submission: Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response in BC
The Business Council's response to the Ministry of Environment's request for comments on the Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response in British Columbia, Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation (2012).
Cumulative Impact Assessment:
Is It Just a Fancy Way of Identifying and Managing Risk?
What is cumulative impact assessment?
Environment and Energy Bulletin
Air Quality Regulation: Canadian and BC Developments
Over the last 35 years, the issue of air quality has become a predominant global environmental concern as a result of increased urbanization, industrialization, a growing demand for energy in all forms, and the world’s reliance upon vehicles as the primary mode of transportation.
Governments in Europe and North America took the initial steps at understanding and eventually regulating air quality in the 1960’s and 1970’s, with Canada implementing a formal regulatory approach in 1999 under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Since then, management of air quality has evolved in Canada and in British Columbia, which has its own provincial regulatory regime governing air pollution, including delegating responsibility to Metro Vancouver with respect to air quality in this region.
Submission: BCBC's submission to the Provincial Carbon Tax Review
In the 2012 budget, the Provincial Ministry of Finance announced a review of the carbon tax and its impact on British Columbia's competitiveness. The attached publication was prepared by Jock Finlayson and his policy team at the Business Council.
Changes to the Fisheries Act - The Sky is (Not) Falling
Recent changes to the Federal Fisheries Act had been the subject of considerable speculation until the Harper Government’s 2012 Omnibus Budget Bill was tabled earlier this year confirming the details of the proposed changes, some of which became law on June 29, 2012.
The Business Council’s latest Environment and Energy Bulletin clarifies some of the misconceptions about the changes to the original Act, which is nearly 100 years old, and outlines what these changes mean for the business community.
Boomtown or Ghost Town? The Need to Secure BC's LNG Opportunity
By Greg D'Avignon, President and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia
Even in the best of times, it is extremely rare that a province is presented with an opportunity to develop a new industry with the potential for $50 billion in capital investment over the next five years. Over the longer-term there may be as much as 1.2 million person years of employment, a six-fold increase in annual government royalties and a cumulative total upwards of $1 trillion in additional GDP over the next 30 years. Such are the magnitudes of the economic and social benefits that BC could realize by developing a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) export industry, serving the rapidly expanding Asian markets.
The Impact of Canadian Environmental Regulatory and Approval Regimes on Business Competitiveness
Environment and Energy Bulletin v4 n3
The global economic environment remains challenging, as Canadian firms and industries address the need to be competitive and maintain jobs and investment in the country. For Canada, one positive trend is the rise of Asia in the global economy. Today, Asia as a whole accounts for more than 35% of global output, and the figure is expected to approach one-half by 2025. Some analysts believe that sustained growth in China and other emerging economies in Asia (and elsewhere) will fuel a prolonged “up-cycle” for many internationally traded commodities, as rapidly expanding middle class populations in these nations enjoy steadily rising incomes and businesses and governments there invest to build infrastructure, factories, and other fixed assets.
Submission: Development of a National Conservation Plan
Business Council submission to the Parliament of Canada's Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development regarding the development of a national conservation plan for Canada. It is the Business Council’s view that the policy context, objectives and processes for identifying future conservation and protected areas is firmly entrenched within the current policy and regulatory construct in BC, and is also supported by public values. When existing federal programs are added to the mix, we do not see a need for another federal government framework or plan addressing conservation, especially if it would result in further layers of policy or administration.
British Columbia Perspectives on a National Energy Strategy (NES)
Environment and Energy Bulletin v4 n2
There was a time when the words “National Energy Plan” would have caused blood pressure to spike across much of Western Canada, which would then have been followed by colorful descriptions of the federal government. This may no longer be the case - and certainly not if many of the West’s leading think tanks, energy companies and provincial leaders have their way.
Submission: Provincial Environmental Mitigation Policy Review
Submission to British Columbia's Ministry of Environment regarding the proposed Environmental Mitigation Policy.
How Big (and What Is) the 'Green Economy'?
The Challenge of Counting 'Green Jobs' in BC
Environment and Energy Bulletin v4 n1
“Having announced the imminent arrival of the green economy, we’re scrambling to define exactly what that means…”
The above quote neatly sums up the current conundrum about what many people now refer to as the “green” or “clean” economy: although the idea is much celebrated, it is hard to pin down in a satisfactory way. Politicians, media commentators, and non-governmental organizations routinely laud the potential to create thousands of new “green jobs.” Shortly after taking office, US President Barak Obama proclaimed, “As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs - but only if we accelerate that transition.” Closer to home, former Premier Gordon Campbell championed the idea of BC as a North American leader in developing and selling clean (carbon-free) energy. British Columbia’s pioneering economy-wide carbon tax, the first of its kind in North America, was linked to an expectation of robust growth in “green” industries and related gains in employment. At the municipal level, political leaders in the City of Vancouver are convinced that the green sector is destined to drive the region’s economy and foster the development of tens of thousands of new, high-paying jobs.
Submission: Special Legislative Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides
On June 2, 2011, the Legislative Assembly agreed to appoint a Special Committee to examine the use of Cosmetic Pesticides and to make recommendations that potentially could lead to new restrictions on the use of these products in British Columbia. The Business Council of British Columbia is pleased to provide these comments on the policy and regulatory framework concerning the cosmetic use of pesticides in British Columbia. The Business Council also has some concern about the prospect of a spreading patchwork of regulation in this domain. We strongly support the implementation of a coherent set of rules across the province, recognizing that urban and rural settings may warrant somewhat different treatment. As we understand it, around 20 municipalities in BC have already taken steps to restrict pesticide use, with some prohibiting all pesticides in their jurisdictions while others allow some applications with a municipally‐issued permit. Having an array of diverse or conflicting rules in different communities can create unnecessary confusion for industry as well as consumers and leads to higher compliance costs. The Ministry of Environment should ensure that any changes touching on the cosmetic use of pesticides will supersede municipal regulations in order to establish a coherent provincial regulatory framework for the use of pesticide products.
The Natural Gas Story
Environment and Energy Bulletin v3 n2
Both globally and in North America, natural gas is poised to play a bigger role in meeting the energy needs of consumers, businesses and communities. Recent discoveries of large unconventional (shale) gas deposits in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe have heightened awareness that natural gas is an abundant, widely distributed and cost-effective energy source. Many analysts also see natural gas as a “foundation” fuel that can help to pave the way to a lower-carbon energy future. And with a number of countries – Japan, Germany, etc. – now looking at reducing their reliance on nuclear power, the global appetite for natural gas seems poised to increase markedly in the coming years.