B.C.’s official opposition has its own ideas about addressing climate change without creating economic slowdown in British Columbia.
B.C. United Party MLAs Renee Merrifield and Michael Lee visited a handful of Vancouver Island communities on Wednesday, Nov. 22, meeting with local government and business leaders. They were consulting on a range of topics, including party leader Kevin Falcon’s announcement this week that a B.C. United government would scrap the Clean B.C. plan in favour of its own slate of environmental initiatives.
The MLAs referenced a recent Business Council of B.C. report that analyzed provincial government projections related to Clean B.C. and its emissions-reduction targets, and identified that the plan’s measures will put the province’s GDP $28 billion below its potential by 2030.
“It would be the biggest shrink in our economy in history…” said Merrifield, Kelowna-Mission MLA. “We need to get rid of this plan. It’s not feasible for British Columbians and it will literally sabotage our economy.”
Lee, Vancouver-Langara MLA, said B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman suggested the economic gap will be addressed by other initiatives, but said those aren’t in the financial forecasts, aren’t well-defined and are essentially an expression of hope.
“We are in an affordability crisis and crunch,” Lee said. “We need to be more effective, certainly, in terms of our climate leadership, and the government’s own progress on its own plan is not meeting the targets. They’re not showing results.”
Falcon recently announced his party, if elected, would eliminate the provincial fuel tax and cancel carbon tax hikes. This week, he added that his party would scrap Clean B.C. and end the provincial electric vehicle subsidy, and address climate change by going “all in” on LNG, building climate-resilient infrastructure like dikes, and overhauling provincial wildfire management.
Lee said the export of B.C. LNG has potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on an international scale.
“We need to do our part, but that part is not just domestically here in this province, it’s globally,” he said. “Further leaning in to production of clean LNG for the world is where we believe – particularly if we can electrify LNG production – will actually make a contribution to lowering overall GHG emissions.”
Merrifield said EV subsidies, for example, aren’t good value for dollar in reducing emissions, whereas improved wildfire management and suppression would address a huge source of emissions that is sometimes ignored in climate conversations.
“We don’t count that into our emissions because it doesn’t factor into our global standards in the same way [but] we absolutely need to count that into our emissions,” she said. “It has a huge impact on our livability, on what we’re releasing into the environment.”
Heyman, in a press release last month, said that the Clean B.C. road map is “one of the strongest climate plans on the continent that will help us expand and accelerate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”