B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver and Premier John Horgan autograph a copy of the ‘CleanBC’ plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades, Vancouver cabinet office, Dec. 5, 2018. (B.C. government)

B.C. VIEWS: For 2019, wishful thinking replaces evidence

‘CleanBC’ recycled strategies and gestures don’t help environment

The year 2018 ends in a rush of environmental virtue-signalling that looks to carry on into the new year and beyond, around the world and here in B.C.

Canada’s December delegation to the 24th annual United Nations climate summit in frigid Poland was pared down to 126 warm bodies, from 161 last year. Thousands of delegates (the Democratic Republic of Congo, noted mostly for corruption, civil war and lawless mining, sent almost 300) came up with rules for measuring greenhouse gases, to take effect in 2020. And that’s about it.

Major oil exporting countries including the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked an effort to include in the official statement a goal of weaning the world off fossil fuels. Negotiations for a global emissions trading system that is supposed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars were put off again, to next year’s meeting in Chile.

Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna declared it a success, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled a plan to borrow more money and lend it to struggling Alberta oil and gas producers. The decade-long U.S.-directed scheme to “landlock” Western Canadian petroleum resources has now become so glaringly obvious and damaging that even the CBC was forced to report on it.

WATCH: Horgan discusses LNG project in year-end interview

READ MORE: B.C. Greens ‘shocked’ at NDP support for LNG

While the annual circus of unnecessary air travel was going on, the B.C. NDP government unveiled its glossy vision for a “CleanBC” future, to meet the province’s new greenhouse gas reduction target.

Premier John Horgan insists this is the pathway to a 19-million-tonne reduction in B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, even as the province adds a large-scale liquefied natural gas export facility with its main compression works powered by gas.

How is B.C. doing so far, 10 years after leading Canada into a carbon tax strategy? The latest greenhouse gas figures show B.C. emissions increasing. Indeed, the only time they dipped was in a deep world-wide recession that began in late 2008. This is consistent with UN reports that indicate carbon taxes must be vastly greater than what B.C. and lately the rest of Canada have contemplated, to force people off carbon-based fuels.

CleanBC largely doubles down on familiar strategies that haven’t worked. “Low-carbon fuel” regulations are to be stepped up along with the carbon tax, meaning more grain ethanol or recycled cooking oil added to gasoline and diesel. When you count up emissions from growing, harvesting and processing the crops, displacing a small part of petroleum fuel doesn’t add up to much.

B.C. is going to electrify its natural gas industry, or at least the new parts of it. As someone who used to work in a refinery, I’m wondering how remote drill rigs and sour gas processing plants will operate without burning their own gas.

Oh, and in CleanBC, you’ll be discouraged from burning natural gas to heat your home too. You need a heat pump, and the increasing carbon tax you pay will go into subsidies for this technology.

Long-time B.C. residents may recall getting a cheque in the mail from the Gordon Campbell government, a “climate action rebate” that arrived not long before the 2009 election. This strategy is going national, coincidentally just in time for the 2019 federal election. Trudeau has said the national carbon tax he is imposing will result in most people being money ahead, as Canada tinkers with annual emissions that amount to a few days worth of China’s output.

Happy New Year.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureClimate change

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta artist John Horton named to Order of British Columbia

Honour for significant contributions made to the appreciation and safety of B.C.’s coastal history

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society doing ‘better than we were expecting’ amid COVID-19

At one point, the board thought it might have a donation shortfall of $250,000

Man arrested in ‘after-hours club crackdown’ in Whalley, Surrey RCMP say

Police say they received information about clubs, parties ‘springing up’ at commercial properties

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

PHOTOS: Moving day for 110-year-old Fraser Valley heritage house

Chilliwack heritage house makes 1.7-kilometre journey to new location

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for Aug. 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Most Read