By Mary Polak
Minister of Environment
British Columbia is a recognized global climate leader. We were North America’s first – and still only – province, territory or state to become a carbon-neutral government, having achieved that status every year since 2010. We introduced North America’s first and most comprehensive revenue-neutral carbon tax and have also laid out climate actions in all sectors of the economy. These actions are helping to drive innovation and cut our carbon emissions, contributing to our strong, diverse economy. And, because our broad-based carbon tax is revenue neutral, we’ve returned money to British Columbians in the form of personal and business tax reductions.
While our Climate Action Plan has been a success, we recognize that we’ll need to do even more to reach our emissions reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.
Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark announced that B.C. will develop a new Climate Leadership Plan. At the same time, we appointed a Climate Leadership Team consisting of leaders from the business, academic and environmental communities, as well as First Nations and local governments. The team will review options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the context of the Province’s economic priorities, and make recommendations to government for the new Climate Leadership Plan.
On July 17, we began public consultation on the development of the new Climate Leadership Plan with the release of a discussion paper online (www.engage.gov.bc.ca/climateleadership). The purpose of this paper is to invite a discussion of ideas, values and priorities to help shape the plan.
B.C.’s new Climate Leadership Plan will influence how we work, travel and live for decades to come. That’s why it’s important to hear from as many people as possible before government make decisions on next steps.
Science tells us increasing emissions caused by human behaviour are changing our climate and affecting every aspect of our lives. Science also tells us we must act now to make a difference.
Since setting targets in 2007, much has been accomplished. Now it’s time to build on our efforts together with businesses, communities and other partners.
The climate challenges that lie ahead are significant, but so are the rewards, if we act on them now. Together we can do this – we can fight climate change, protect our planet and improve our quality of life.
I encourage all British Columbians to review the discussion paper, and then provide us with your thoughts by completing the online survey by Aug. 17. These comments will be reviewed by the Climate Leadership Team and will inform their ongoing work.
After reviewing the discussion paper submissions and the Climate Leadership Team’s recommendations, government will release a draft Climate Leadership Plan in December 2015, in time for the United Nations climate change conference in Paris (COP21).
At that time, a second round of public consultation will take place. British Columbians will be asked to comment on specific climate policies and actions. Government will review those comments and use them in the development of the final version of the Climate Leadership Plan to be released in March 2016.
The input of British Columbians from all backgrounds will be vital to the success of the Climate Leadership Plan. We look forward to hearing from you.
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect