Canadian voters can take action on climate change this fall by electing politicians who present strong, long-term plans to cut carbon pollution. Those who live in B.C. have an extra opportunity to be heard in a direct and important way.
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UPDATE: The deadline for written submissions to the B.C. Government as been extended to September 14. The survey deadline remains August 17.
The B.C. government is developing a rebooted climate action strategy. The first step of the "Climate Action 2.0" policy-making process is to give B.C. residents the chance to share their priorities with government concerning this globally important issue. Until August 17, B.C. residents are invited to fill out this survey. The David Suzuki Foundation has submitted a response calling for action that will help the province become a global climate leader. You can do the same.
We encourage B.C. residents to outline their own personal views in their responses, but we are happy to provide our own submission as an example. The Foundation's submission can be viewed below:
Climate change is a present reality, not a future prediction. Strong actions from all levels of government are needed to address this global challenge. An effective suite of polices with dedicated targets can provide the impetus for the shift to a low-carbon economy in B.C. and beyond. The David Suzuki Foundation is responding to the B.C. government's discussion paper in the format requested but is also including specific policy options that will support the achievement of ambitious near- and long-term goals.
Questions from discussion paper:
1) In the short term, which of the four goals needs the most immediate attention in order for B.C. to achieve its 2020 targets? Why?
In the short term, the goals for "the way we travel" should be the most immediate priorities. Transportation makes up 37.2 per cent of B.C.'s total emissions and must be addressed to meet short- and long-term legislated goals. Government must support the shift to zero-emission vehicles to reach the 2020 target. Policies to support this shift are identified later in this document.
2) In the long term, which of the four goals needs the most immediate attention in order for B.C. to achieve its 2050 targets? Why?
In the long term, the province will be required to use all the tools at its disposal to meet the 2050 reduction goals. Nonetheless, the goals for "the way we work" and "what we value" will require the most immediate attention. If B.C. does not make binding commitments, climate action may suffer. The consideration of issues like liquefied natural gas industry expansion must also include the climate costs and risks, and not just the financial benefits.
The way we live
Goal 1: Communities are thriving and resilient in the face of climate change.
Indicate your level of support for each of the following statements as they relate to achieving Goal 1 (distribute 10 points among 4 choices):
- Minimizing travel and energy use needs to be a priority for community planning (4 of 10).
- Regulations and incentives should require more energy-efficient buildings and greater uptake of clean energy technologies (3 of 10).
- Governments need to invest more in building resilience to extreme weather events and provide stronger direction regarding appropriate places to build (2 of 10).
- Local food supply and low-carbon businesses should be strongly supported by communities (1 of 10).
What is the most important statement of the four related to attaining Goal 1? Why?
Community planning to minimize travel and energy use should be the top priority. Minimizing travel and energy use has inherent health benefits and cost savings and brings communities together. Municipalities are already leading climate action in B.C. Let's empower them to do even more and keep the momentum going. The B.C. government should focus on where it has jurisdiction to empower communities. Key priorities include:
- Securing long-term dedicated revenue sources (for provincial and municipal contributions) to fund transit and active transportation infrastructure and services.
- Community Charter. All provincial transit investment agreements should be based on local communities aligning their planning targets to support compact communities.
- Seek to increase the density of housing areas, thereby creating walkable and bikeable communities with amenities and services nearby.
The way we travel
Goal 2: People and goods move efficiently and reliably, using clean transportation.
Indicate your level of support for each of the following statements as they relate to achieving Goal 2 (distribute 10 points among 4 choices):
- Increasing use of clean, coordinated transportation such as public transit, carpooling, shared travel, bicycles and walking should be a government priority (3 of 10).
- People should be encouraged to drive less through incentives or increased costs (e.g. for using fossil fuels) (2 of 10).
- Regulations and incentives should be expanded to increase the use of cleaner vehicles and fuels (4 of 10).
- Public and private investments should be directed towards infrastructure designed to withstand extreme weather conditions (1 of 10).
What is the most important statement of the four related to attaining Goal 2? Why?
Efforts to increase the use of cleaner vehicles and fuels should be the top priority. Expanding public transportation networks and encouraging people to drive less are also important goals, but many people do not have the option to take public transit or drive less. The commercial transportation sector accounts for 23.9 per cent of B.C.'s emissions and increasing public transit or having people drive less does not reduce emissions in this sector. Cleaner vehicles and fuels will be essential in cutting carbon pollution from transportation in B.C.
The way we work
Goal 3: B.C.'s economy remains strong, and jobs continue to be created, while greenhouse gas emissions fall.
Indicate your level of support for each of the following statements as they relate to achieving Goal 3 (distribute 10 points among 5 choices):
- Governments, businesses, universities and colleges need to accelerate development of a workforce that excels in a low-carbon economy (2 of 10).
- Consumers should use their purchasing power to encourage organizations to reduce their emissions (1 of 10).
- Government should use regulations and incentives to drive organizations to innovate and cut their emissions while growing their business (2 of 10).
- New major sources of emissions in the province should be required to align with B.C.'s climate plan (3 of 10).
- Government and business should collaborate to expand technology exports and access to global carbon markets and investments (2 of 10).
What is the most important statement of the five related to attaining Goal 3? Why?
If B.C. is serious about meeting its long-term emissions-reduction goals, any new major emissions sources must align with B.C.'s climate plan. We can't have individuals, local governments, current business and others make efforts to reduce emissions just to have those efforts cancelled out by emissions from a new industry. New industries must be climate conscious or our 2050 goal will be unattainable.
What we value
Goal 4: The cost of climate change for society is considered whenever British Columbians make important decisions.
Indicate your level of support for each of the following statements as they relate to achieving Goal 4 (distribute 10 points among 4 choices):
- Government should expand the use of carbon pricing to stimulate business and consumer decisions that reduce emissions (4 of 10).
- Government should improve the affordability of solutions that allow business and consumers to reduce emissions and prepare for climate change (2 of 10).
- Government should set targets for types of emissions (e.g. transportation, industry, buildings, etc.) to get reductions (2 of 10).
- Government should use regulations and incentives to drive organizations and people to consider costs of adapting to climate change in important decisions (2 of 10).
What is the most important statement of the five related to attaining Goal 4? Why?
Carbon emissions cause climate change. Applying a carbon tax acknowledges this and prices the problem, thereby reducing the "free dumping" of this pollution into our atmosphere. This tax makes cleaner options more economically viable as traditional pollution sources become more costly. A carbon tax is the strongest and most effective tool for mitigating climate change. B.C.'s carbon tax has been cited as a successful example of carbon pricing for the past seven years, and the current freeze should be lifted and tax level increased to meet our emissions-reduction goals.
Summary of climate change policy recommendations for B.C.
Transportation improvements reduce emissions and congestion, improve public health and lower transportation costs for government and individuals. Powering our transportation system with clean electricity is key to a climate policy in B.C. Recommendations also include:
- Invest in public transit infrastructure.
- Review the Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel requirements and set targets for 2050.
- Develop a clean emission vehicle standard.
B.C.'s carbon tax is a success. Fuel use has dropped in the province while it has increased in other parts of Canada, all while economic growth has outpaced the national average. It's time to remove the freeze on annual carbon tax increases and have its positive effects grow even further. Recommendations for the carbon tax include:
- Reinstate the annual increases to the carbon tax.
- Expand the carbon tax to cover the remainder of B.C.'s economy.
- Increase the transparency of tax cuts resulting from the carbon tax.
Buildings account for 12 per cent of B.C.'s emissions. Efforts to retrofit buildings as well as increase efficiency standards for new buildings will be required for substantial emissions reductions in this area. Buildings should be designed to reduce their overall impact on the natural environment and human health. Recommendations for creating more sustainable buildings include:
- Promote district energy systems, where possible.
- Develop a net-zero building standard and timeframe for implementation.
- Promote and provide incentives for the use of wood for construction.
- Develop a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing system for homeowners.
B.C.'s clean economy
Clean technology is Canada's fastest-growing sector and has quickly developed into one of the most promising elements of our country's economy. B.C.'s cleantech industry has grown to one of the most vibrant in North America with more than 200 companies employing over 8,000 people and generating $2.5 billion in revenues annually, primarily from exports. Recommendations for supporting B.C.'s clean tech economy include:
- Strengthen B.C.'s Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) fund.
- Expand the Carbon Neutral Capital Program funding.
- Have local governments become carbon-neutral by 2018.
- Bring "natural capital assets" into the same asset-management system as engineered infrastructure.