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Submission: Climate Leadership Plan Discussion Paper

Highlights

The attached document contains the Business Council of British Columbia’s response to the Province of BC’s July 2015 Discussion Paper - Climate Leadership Plan.

British Columbia is a global leader in implementing concrete action to manage and mitigate the impacts of climate change.  No other province or state in North America has done more, particularly in the area of carbon pricing.  BC can also claim success for having met its goal of achieving “carbon neutral” government.  Significant steps have been taken with respect to greenhouse gas emissions reporting and compliance, new energy efficiency measures, low-carbon fuel standards, sustainable forestry, and growing the renewable energy sector.  BC has an electricity sector that is 94% clean and the envy of most jurisdictions worldwide that are looking to shift toward lower-carbon fuels in the power sector.  With a largely carbon-free electricity sector and an existing carbon tax set at $30 per tonne of CO2e, BC has already harvested much of the “low-hanging fruit” in terms of reducing GHG emissions.  As a result the province has few low-cost GHG abatement options available at the present time.  Absent significant and near-term technological advances and strong moves on carbon pricing by neighbours and trading partners, British Columbia needs to be pragmatic and modest in pursuing further climate policy action in the next few years.

British Columbia business leaders want to be fully engaged in a collaborative process of determining what additional measures can be implemented that preserve BC’s climate leadership position while ensuring that our small trade-oriented, natural resource-dependent economy can successfully compete in the global marketplace.  Business Council members are willing and able to offer their knowledge and expertise to assist the province in the next stage of climate policy development. 

Recommendations

  • Keep the BC carbon tax in place at the current level over the balance of the decade.  Post-2020, policy-makers should review the tax in light of actions by other jurisdictions to narrow the existing gaps with BC in carbon pricing.
  • Revise and replace the province’s 2020 emissions target with a more realistic medium-term target.
  • In framing the next stage of climate policy, be pragmatic and put BC’s contribution to world, North American and global GHG emissions in context.
  • Conduct a cross-cutting analysis of existing policy- and regulatory-driven cost burdens facing industry in British Columbia before proceeding with any new fiscal or regulatory measures that affect the cost of operating and investing in a business in British Columbia.
  • Pursue market based mechanisms as preferred tools for fostering less carbon intensive energy systems in the transportation and building sectors and also at the community level.
  • Ramp up the evaluation of transportation options, including dedicated trucking lanes and routes, road pricing for all drivers, transportation electrification, and increased collaboration and cost sharing with municipalities on community design and public transit.
  • Leverage and support BC-based firms with export aspirations with respect to LEED innovation and other areas of technical innovation where the province has commercial strengths.
  • For the next stage of BC climate policy, explore, and where appropriate utilize, the full suite of tools, including financial incentives, public sector procurement, industrial policy, post-secondary education and research, programs to support the commercialization of home-grown intellectual property, and other policies to stimulate technological innovation.
  • Consider establishing a BC Centre of Excellence in Renewable Electricity.
  • Step up efforts to encourage the development of pan-Canadian approaches to carbon pricing and other elements of climate policy, by working more closely with other provinces.
  • Pursue discussions with Alberta on opportunities to expand trade in energy, particularly electricity, and on ways to strengthen cooperation in areas such as carbon pricing, GHG reporting, the role and use of offsets, energy efficiency standards, and other aspects of climate policy.
  • Develop a BC strategy on cap and trade, in anticipation that this may become the predominant regime for managing and pricing industrial greenhouse gas emissions in North America

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