The B.C. Liberal government’s climate plan update is about to be released and there’s some anticipation that increasing the carbon tax won’t be part of the announcement.
Despite recommendations from the Climate Leadership Team released in November, it’s believed that the plan won’t detail a commitment to bumping B.C.’s carbon tax $10 per year as suggested.
Josha MacNab with environmental group the Pembina Institute says there’s an appetite for the measure.
“We hear from industry in particular that they prefer a carbon price over regulation when it comes to finding a way to reduce emissions across the economy, because it allows them the flexibility that they’re looking for. Government isn’t coming in and saying ‘you need to do it this way.'”
MacNab says the plan will be a success if it can meet B.C.’s 2050 emissions target, and make B.C. competitive in a low carbon economy.
17 companies and organizations have banded together to send Premier Christy Clark an open letter recommending the same.
READ MORE: Industry and environmental groups press premier on climate action
On that list, and the Climate Leadership Team itself, was executive director of Clean Energy Canada, Merran Smith.
“We looked at all the ways to reduce carbon pollution in British Columbia, and we found that the most efficient and the cheapest way to reduce carbon pollution was by using our exiting carbon tax. it’s the best tool that we have.”
She says to see an update on the plan (tomorrow) that doesn’t include an increase of the carbon tax would be a serious cause for concern.
Smith recalls that when the carbon tax was on the rise, B.C.’s carbon emissions fell at twice the rate of the rest of Canada. Since its price has been frozen, emissions have steadily crept back up.
“I’m going to be looking for a climate leadership plan that does two basic things. One, it cuts carbon pollution significantly by 2030, and secondly it helps British Columbia’s workers and businesses compete in the growing, global, clean economy. And both of those things are much easier to achieve with a strong carbon price.”
But raising the carbon tax may also mean the risk of deterring the LNG industry, with 23 projects currently in various stages of development in B.C.
A push back from First Nations groups on various LNG projects, as well as First Nations inclusion in recommending the tax increase, could mean a negative reaction if the update doesn’t follow through.
Smith says B.C.’s lead on climate action has been a big part of the economy, sparking innovation and attention from big global players looking to reduce emissions as well.
She says over $2 trillion goes to the clean economy, globally, and to not continue to lead in emission reduction would mean losing out on those investment dollars coming to B.C.
“We risk losing our advantage of being a leader on climate action and in fact I think if we put out a plan that really fails to significantly reduce carbon pollution we’re going to be seen almost as a laughing stock in the climate leader circle.”