Province seeks input on next climate plan 

Online consultation begins Jan.25

click to enlarge HAVE YOUR SAY Arthur De Jong and Whistler Blackcomb have been tracking the effects of climate change for years. The provincial government launched another round of consultations for its Climate Leadership Plan on Jan. 25.
  • HAVE YOUR SAY Arthur De Jong and Whistler Blackcomb have been tracking the effects of climate change for years. The provincial government launched another round of consultations for its Climate Leadership Plan on Jan. 25.

The provincial government is seeking more public input as it develops its next climate plan.

Online public consultation for the Climate Leadership Plan will launch Jan. 25 and run for 60 days.

Sector-specific industry consultations will take place alongside the public engagement period, as well as public opinion polling by Ipsos Reid.

The completed plan is to be released this spring.

"I think this is something that every person in B.C. should get involved with," said Claire Ruddy, executive director of the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE).

"The hope is that you end up with a really robust plan that can work for communities across the province."

Arthur De Jong, mountain planner with Whistler Blackcomb (WB), agreed that the move to engage the public is a positive thing.

"I hope that the province listens carefully, and we find more means, ideas and implementations on how to mitigate our carbon here in the province," De Jong said.

WB has long been working towards a zero-operating carbon footprint, including the recent hire of a new staff member focused on waste, De Jong said.

"We're at about a 70 per cent diversion, and we know that if we optimize all of our present systems, we can get diversion to 90 per cent," he said.

"We are continuing to see improvements with our hydro electric consumption — specifically, technologies are improving with snowmaking — that's where we're going to see I think the next most significant reductions in our hydro electric energy consumption."

Speaking from a personal perspective, De Jong said he hopes the end result of this round of consultations is policy with legislative teeth — in other words, more carbon taxing as opposed to more carbon trading.

"I don't want to say that carbon trading is ineffective or wrong, because that's not the case, but there's a grey area," De Jong said.

"There's a lack of transparency, there's a slippery or weasel room with it, whereas a straight carbon tax puts clarity in the market place."

But while the B.C. government may have once been seen as a leader on climate, that's no longer the case, said George Hoberg, a University of British Columbia professor who teaches courses on energy and environmental policy.

"They were when they introduced the carbon tax back in 2008, but they aren't anymore, and the fact that it's been sitting where it is since 2012 means we're essentially losing progress," Hoberg said.

"It's quite disturbing that the consultation report, the climate leadership team report, acknowledges that we won't be able to meet our 2020 targets."

The Climate Leadership Team recommendations report, dated Oct. 31, 2015, included recommendations to establish a legislated 2030 target of 40 per cent GHG reduction below 2007 levels, an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 and increase the carbon tax by $10 per year starting in 2018, among many others.

Hoberg said he would like to see support mobilized for the recommendations.

"That's what's necessary in order to get B.C. on a track to meet some serious targets, and I think it's absolutely imperative that the government of B.C. follow through on its aspirations to climate leadership."

For more on the Climate Leadership Plan — including the full Climate Leadership Team report — head to www.engage.gov.bc.ca/climateleadership.

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