Premier Christy Clark promised renewed action on climate change Monday, even as B.C. came under attack for falling behind on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
With critics dismissing her comments as “hot air,” Clark issued a statement challenging other jurisdictions to meet or beat B.C.’s “world-leading standard” on climate action.
She also announced the formation of a new climate leadership team to begin work on Climate Action Plan 2.0.
The statement noted that Clark has been invited to talk about B.C.’s carbon tax at the World Bank-International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
But Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver said while B.C. could claim leadership on fighting climate change under former Premier Gordon Campbell and then-Environment Minister Barry Penner, the province has fallen behind under Clark and Environment Minister Mary Polak.
“What the World Bank should be doing, if they want to invite someone to speak about B.C.’s climate policies, it should be [former] premier Campbell and Barry Penner,” he said. “Those two together were the ones that actually brought the innovative policy measures in. The government now [is] dismantling those.”
Weaver said the government’s weakened climate-action policies combined with its fixation on liquefied natural gas development will prevent it from achieving the 2020 targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
“The province cannot meet — simply cannot meet — its 2020 targets with the policy measures it has in place and with its dreams — which are dreams — of LNG prosperity for one and all,” he said.
Canada’s Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq also released data Sunday showing that B.C. is set to miss its 2020 targets.
B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak said her ministry will have to review the federal data before commenting.
“It’s really difficult to know how they’re arriving at their calculations,” she said.
Polak said government met its 2012 greenhouse-gas-reduction targets and remains committed to achieving its 2020 and 2050 goals. “It doesn’t take away from the fact that we know there has to be more done if we are going to continue to meet our targets,” she said.
“It is time for us to refresh that climate-action plan and we’re going to put together a leadership team to allow us to do it.”
NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said B.C. has been adding to climate change under Clark, rather than fighting it. “The only leadership the province has shown on climate change in the last couple of years has just been putting out more hot air,” he said.
“There has been no new action aside from getting rid of the LiveSmart B.C. program, which actually helped people cut climate-change emissions from their home. And there’s been no new investment in transit, just a referendum.”
“The only plan has been to step on the gas and increase emissions at this point,” Herbert said.