This summer, we saw the effects of climate change firsthand – a reminder of how urgently we must act on the climate crisis. The heat domes, record-setting temperatures, and frightening wildfires of this year could all become more frequent unless we take concrete action to address climate change. Even here on southern Vancouver Island, we saw our mild climate impacted by these extreme conditions.
When the BC NDP first formed government in 2017, Premier Horgan and his cabinet worked across the aisle with the previous MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and former Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. Together they created CleanBC in 2018. CleanBC represents a gold standard for climate policy and a brighter future for B.C. It even earned an endorsement from Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, who said the plan would blaze a trail toward hope and opportunity while building momentum for climate action along the west coast and beyond.
CleanBC has already delivered concrete results. This year, B.C. became the North American leader in uptake for new electric vehicles; more than 60,000 new EVs were registered in 2020 alone. We have expanded public transit provincewide, and here in Greater Victoria, added low-carbon buses. Methane emissions generated in the oil and gas sector were 12 per cent lower than in 2014, with new regulations coming into effect that are expected to cut methane emissions by 45 per cent by 2025. Additionally, the province funded emissions-reduction projects in collaboration with industry, which will result in an almost 1-million-tonne reduction of CO2 emissions between now and 2030.
Despite these achievements, this year has shown we need to do even more to combat climate change. That is why this month we released the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030. Building on the ambitions of CleanBC, the roadmap offers a detailed plan on how we will expand and accelerate our climate action, with a commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Roadmap to 2030 will see a continued adoption of zero-emission vehicles. It also includes a higher price on carbon pollution, a targeted reduction for oil and gas emissions between 33 to 38 per cent by 2030, and a comprehensive review of the province’s oil and gas royalty system. These concrete steps, backed by sound public policy work, will make polluting more expensive, and shifting from fossil fuels to clean alternatives more affordable.
In addition, our government has recently proposed amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act, focusing on correcting forestry policies – put in place two decades ago – that have limited our ability to fight climate change, protect old-growth forests, and share the benefits with Indigenous and local communities. Also, part of the recently announced Clean BC Roadmap to 2030 includes renewed focus on making our bioeconomy a waste-free, circular economy while helping in the fight against climate change.
The social and economic costs of climate change are devastating, but by taking the steps outlined in CleanBC, we will ensure a vibrant economy for British Columbia and a just transition for workers. Climate change anxiety is real, and I know that many of you worry about our future on this planet. As your elected representative and as a new grandfather, I share your concerns and I believe that our government’s approach is the right one. We are taking action to build a cleaner, stronger, more sustainable future for all British Columbians.
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Murray Rankin is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head.