Neither B.C. nor Canada can go it alone on climate change. Our actions, while important, will have minimal impact in a world where we represent about 0.1% and less than 2% of global emissions, respectively – with both figures projected to decline going forward. Instead of focusing on arbitrary GHG emission targets, B.C. policy-makers should be looking at investments in adaptation, making our communities and infrastructure more resilient, and finding ways to encourage the substitution of higher-carbon products in the global marketplace with similar products sourced from B.C. (and Canada) that draw on our relatively low-carbon energy inputs – a valuable source of long-term competitive advantage for the province. Both Canada and B.C. have a role to play in helping to meet growing global demand for energy, minerals, agri-food products and industrial raw materials. With the right policies and fiscal tools in place, our industries can leverage the province’s low-GHG energy inputs and strong environmental track record to become preferred suppliers of goods and services in a world that is transitioning to a lower-carbon future.
In our view, B.C.’s adoption of more ambitious GHG emission reduction targets is problematic. The province failed to reach the previous 2020 target. Extending the timeline and roughly doubling the legislated reduction goal does not render the targets more achievable – it simply increases the risk of failure and heightens uncertainty for investors.
Overall, a number of the measures identified in the three Intentions Papers should enable the province to move forward on climate policy, although we have doubts about what will be achieved and the cost of getting there. The papers reflect a continued inward-looking policy mindset that doesn’t make sense when thinking about climate change. We recommend that policy-makers situate provincial climate policy in the larger global context, and also as part of a broader B.C. industrial and economic development strategy.