B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Friday, Oct. 9, where she announced her party’s climate action and clean economy platform. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

B.C. Green Party leader comes to Nanaimo to announce climate action platform

Furstenau promises that if elected, Greens would set path to make B.C. carbon-neutral by 2045

The B.C. Green Party announced its climate action and clean economy platform today in Nanaimo, promising that if elected, it will set a path to make British Columbia carbon-neutral by 2045.

Sonia Furstenau made the platform announcement Friday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, supported by candidates Lia Versaevel of Nanaimo, Rob Lyon of Parksville-Qualicum and Evan Jolicoeur of Mid-Island Pacific Rim.

Furstenau said the NDP can’t consider themselves climate leaders while expanding the fossil fuel industry and said her party wants greater urgency around the climate crisis and more assurance that B.C. will meet climate goals.

“We can’t afford to play accounting games,” Furstenau said. “We need an honest plan that will reach our goals.”

She said in addition to carbon-neutrality by 2045, the Greens would have a “robust strategy” to close the gap by 2030.

Furstenau said her party would introduce a $1-billion strategic investment fund to support business innovation that aligns with the province’s climate goals. She also mentioned “predictable, yearly increases” to the carbon tax.

A press release from the B.C. Greens notes that if elected, the party would immediately end oil and gas subsidies and “redirect that money to spurring innovation, to help grow businesses in B.C. and help us meet our climate commitments.”

The platform also points to a “biofuels strategy and clean hydrogen roadmap.” The Greens want 100 per cent of non-commercial vehicles to be zero-emissions by 2035 and would prioritize investments in electric transit systems.

“The investments we make to recover from COVID-19 can establish a world-leading zero-emission transportation system,” said Furstenau. “Our plan would electrify our transit systems, including partnering with the federal government to support B.C. Transit and Translink’s efforts to electrify their bus fleets … and undertake a comprehensive build out of public charging infrastructure on all highways in the province.”

Furstenau also promised that the Greens would lower the cost of electric vehicles so “ordinary British Columbians can afford them.” She said the Greens would increase zero-emission vehicle accessibility by removing the provincial sales tax on used electric cars.

Furstenau said the Greens would implement “a just transition program for workers in the oil and gas sector, and other industries in transition,” working to lead them to “guaranteed” jobs in the clean economy.

“Second, we would establish a clean jobs program to help us recover from COVID-19 and get people back to work immediately,” said Furstenau. “The program would create thousands of jobs, enhancing B.C.’s natural climate solutions, tree planting, conservation, remediating environmental liabilities, as well as climate adaptation and improving community resilience to climate change.”

READ ALSO: B.C. party leaders talk taxes, housing at board of trade event

READ ALSO: Parties will have to distinguish themselves with COVID-19 recovery plans, says poli-sci prof

Versaevel said an electrified transit system would work for cities like Nanaimo.

“We have the basic infrastructure already, we also have a rail line that we don’t use between here and Victoria, and I know that that’s sometimes controversial as well…” Versaevel said. “We do have the capacity to use our waterways and existing resources to make this a hub city again. We can have a downtown core that is a free transit area that would bring people in to use the downtown businesses and support those small enterprises again. We have an existing transit system that we could enhance.”

– files from Karl Yu, News Bulletin



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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