Photo: Families, communities, the environment and clean energy innovation all lose out in this year's B.C. budget.

Credit: James Wheeler via Flickr

By Ian Bruce, Manager, Science and Policy

B.C. was once known as a leader on pursuing climate change solutions as part of its economic strategy. That leadership is being eroded. In the province's 2014 budget, the environment and clean energy innovation lose out.

This budget again focuses on shale gas extraction for future liquefied natural gas (LNG) export, unveiling a proposed royalty regime should LNG plans materialize. The government committed $29 million over three years to entice the oil and gas industry to build processing plants with a streamlined environmental regulatory process, however B.C. did recommit to having "the cleanest LNG industry in the world" although provided no details as to how. It was a lot of fanfare for an industrial vision that very well may never see the light of day.

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But what's really troubling is that B.C. is falling out of step with other jurisdictions. Prioritizing a single fossil fuel resource industry at the expense of energy efficiency and the clean energy technology sector is a risky and outdated economic plan.

Families lose out when the environment isn't a budget priority. Take the popular LiveSmart home energy savings program, which helped British Columbians get energy audits and make investments to home energy efficiency. Families saved money and B.C.'s carbon emissions were slashed, yet the program was cancelled.

Families also win when we invest in public transit and reduce traffic by creating more reliable transportation choices. Delaying transit investment decisions in this budget and moving them to a plebiscite—while other major infrastructure projects get the green light—puts us further behind in responding to one of the most pressing environmental concerns many communities face.

With this budget, the B.C. government misses an opportunity to build an innovative, clean energy economy and green communities—steps that would truly put B.C. families first. Our province needs a long-term energy vision that invests in renewables, clean energy innovation and green jobs—one that would better shelter us from dramatic increases in energy prices.

Most alarmingly, the budget's direction is at odds with what leading scientists say is needed to address climate change. B.C. communities are already experiencing extreme weather and severe climate change-related events ranging from intense storms and flooding to the spread of the mountain pine beetle because of warmer winter temperatures.

Ignoring the climate realities of today and delaying a shift to a new, sustainable economy means we leave increasingly harder decisions for our children and their children. That's not fair. We need to make the shift now.

February 19, 2014

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1 Comment

Feb 23, 2014
5:30 PM

Christy Clark does not give a hoot about climate and emissions. She is firmly in bed with Harper on this. She talks the talk but walks the opposite direction.

A tried and tested Harper plan which he has used successfully to hoodwink Canadians. And now Clark is doing the same.

Its a sorry affair when our policy makers are effectively greedy seedy profiteers as the expense of our communities and doubly troubling that they do it by fooling the public.

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