The premier of British Columbia on Tuesday announced the creation of a team tasked with reviewing and building on the Canadian province’s efforts to combat climate change.
The team is to make recommendations by the end of November on how BC can update its current Climate Action Plan or introduce new programmes or policies to help meet its 2020 greenhouse gas target while maintaining economic growth and implementing its strategy to begin exporting liquefied natural gas.
“The Climate Leadership Team brings together leaders from the business, academic and environmental communities, as well as First Nations and local governments, to consider the best actions to keep us on track toward meeting our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” said Premier Christy Clark.
The team, to be chaired by BC Legislative Assembly member Mike Bernier, will also be tasked with finding more emission-cutting opportunities across the industrial and transportation sectors and the built environment.
Its plan will be announced in March 2016 following a 30-day public consultation this December.
BC launched an economy-wide, revenue-neutral carbon tax seven years ago, which started at $10/tonne but was frozen by Clark at $30/tonne in 2012.
Clark last month said her government is not considering increasing the levy further in 2018, when the current rate freeze expires, and instead will hunt for abatement options elsewhere as it strives to reach its ambitious yet potentially unattainable goal to cut CO2 output by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020.
As of 2012, the province had managed a reduction of just 6%.
Separately, the Vancouver suburb of Richmond is mulling launching a carbon marketplace to help it buy from small, local project developers the offsets it requires to remain carbon neutral, local media reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Alberta all eyes are on newly-elected premier Rachel Notley, as the province’s industry, utilities and environmentalists await her strategy to tackle GHG emissions.
Notley and her left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) swept to power last week in a surprise election result that ended more than 40 years of Conservative rule in the oil- and gas-rich province.
She has so far been mum as to how she plans to curb the province’s CO2 – which accounts for more than a third of Canada’s total output – but based on her comments along the campaign trail, observers expect Notley to either expand Alberta’s current but somewhat toothless carbon levy programme, introduce a wider, BC-style carbon tax, or follow suit with Ontario and Quebec and pursue a cap-and-trade strategy.
An official in the Alberta government told Carbon Pulse that the issue was high on Notley’s agenda in her first days in office.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will announce Canada’s INDC – its climate pledge to the UN ahead of this year’s Paris summit – before G7 meetings in June, meaning Alberta’s plan may come before that.
Like BC, Alberta is off-track to meet its 2020 target, which is considered both unambitious at 50 million tonnes below BAU levels, and overly-ambitious due to its heavy reliance on unproven and expensive carbon capture and storage (CCS).
According to Canada’s Pembina Institute, Alberta needs to cut its emissions by 27 million tonnes or more than 10% between 2014 and 2020 to hit its target, which effectively allows it to grow its GHG output by 12% above 2005 levels.