An anti-pipeline protest was held in Prince Rupert on Jan. 8, coorindated with protests happening across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation people opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

An anti-pipeline protest was held in Prince Rupert on Jan. 8, coorindated with protests happening across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation people opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

B.C. provided $830M in fossil fuel subsidies in 2017-18: report

B.C. committed $902 million over the next three years to CleanBC

The British Columbia government gives hundreds of millions of dollars annually in subsidies for fossil fuel, including an estimated $830 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, a new report says.

Most of the money goes to fossil fuel producers rather than consumers, says the report released Monday by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an environmental think-tank.

The subsidies include royalty reductions, provincial tax exemptions and direct investments, undermining B.C.’s action on climate change including its long-standing carbon tax, says co-author Vanessa Corkal.

“If you have a boat and you’re trying to use the carbon price to bail water out of the boat, fossil fuel subsidies are kind of like the leak in that boat,” she says in an interview.

“As long as you’re funnelling money to an industry that is going to increase use and production of fossil fuels, a carbon price is only going to do so much.”

Royalty reductions made up a major portion of the approximately $830 million in subsidies given in 2017-2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the report says.

The report says oil and gas companies are required to pay royalties meant to provide benefits to B.C. residents, including by helping fund health care and education.

But every year, it says companies claim credits to reduce the royalties they pay. The report estimates B.C. has amassed at least $2.6 to $3.1 billion in outstanding royalty credits.

Provincial tax exemptions covered a smaller chunk of the subsidies in 2017-2018, the report says. While a large portion of tax exemptions go to fossil fuel consumers, that doesn’t just mean average residents trying to heat their homes — airlines, cruise ship companies and the agriculture sector also benefit.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says in a statement that a number of provincial initiatives have been “inaccurately characterized” in the report, though she didn’t specify which ones.

She says the CleanBC plan to fight climate change includes a program for industry that will reduce emissions by 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030.

“We regularly review royalty programs. Our government will keep working hard to keep B.C. on the path to a cleaner, better future that creates opportunities for all,” she says.

The report notes the B.C. New Democrat government has committed to progressive hikes of the carbon tax, but at the same time has introduced or entrenched fossil fuel subsidies in recent years.

The mining exploration tax credit, which helps to subsidize coal, was made permanent in 2019, the report says. Coal exploration increased by 58 per cent the previous year, it says.

B.C. also still exempts emissions from the carbon tax for controlled venting, or the releasing of gases into the air from natural gas operations, according to the report. With new liquefied natural gas facilities under construction, these types of emissions are likely to grow, it says.

The government has also established new subsidies and increased access to existing ones for the liquefied natural gas sector, the report says. This year the province signed an agreement with LNG Canada, a joint-venture group formed to build a major liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C.

In the agreement, the province committed to provide electricity at the standard industrial rate, eliminate the LNG income tax, allow LNG Canada to claim a natural gas income tax credit and defer provincial sales tax on construction costs.

The report prompted environmental group Stand.earth to call for the province to end subsidies to the oil and gas industry before the next election.

International program director Tzeporah Berman says the subsidies threaten the province’s climate change targets and undermine the CleanBC plan.

Berman notes B.C. committed $902 million over the next three years to CleanBC, only a little more than the $830 million the report says it gave fossil fuel polluters in 2017-2018.

“We cannot be getting off fossil fuels by handing taxpayer dollars to the biggest polluters to help them pollute,” Berman says.

“We need to be using taxpayers’ money to build the cleaner and safer economy that we want, and yes, we need to be increasing the cost to pollute.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

This coming Thursday, Jan. 28, is Bell Let’s Talk Day, and conversations about mental health would serve many of us well as the pandemic persists. (Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection)
Editorial: Let’s talk about our mental health in a pandemic

Bell Let’s Talk Day is Thursday, Jan. 28

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for Peter Ludvigson who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo man wanted, police say he violated terms of his release

Warrant out for 45-year-old Peter Ludvigson

Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble, seen here at a fiddle workshop with visiting instructors Gordon Stobbe and J.J. Guy this summer, is recording its first album. (Photo courtesy Trish Horrocks)
Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble Fiddelium recording first album

Fiddlers recording their parts one at a time in observance of COVID-19 safety

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man with alleged stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

The shirts sell for $45, with 30 per cent of proceeds from each sale going to Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver. (Madame Premier/Sarah Elder-Chamanara)
Canadian company launches ‘hysterical’ T-Shirt to combat health officials’ use of word

A partnership with Tamara Taggart will see women broadcast the word on a T-shirt or tote bag

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Brad Windsor has been an advocate for years to get sidewalks installed along Milburn Drive in Colwood, but to no avail. He wants city council to commit to making Milburn a priority lane for sidewalk construction in the future. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash caught on B.C. home security camera

Angry residents say video highlights need for sidewalks in B.C. residential neighbourhood

An independent review is underway at the Royal BC Museum after employees called out systemic, individual racism at the institution. (Twitter/RBCM)
Royal BC Museum faces allegations of systemic racism, toxic work environment

Formal investigation, survey and training launched at museum

In this May 23, 2012, file photo, an approximately 2-year-old female cougar runs away from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trap after being released northeast of Arlington, Wash. A cougar has attacked and severely mauled a man in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Mulligan/The Daily Herald via AP
Cougar euthanized in B.C. after severely mauling a man north of Vancouver

Whistler RCMP officers were first on the scene and shot and killed a cougar prowling nearby

Most Read