Government report reveals B.C. off track to meet 2030 climate targets

Wednesday December 16, 2020

Horgan government pushes back climate plan by a year

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — British Columbia is far off track from meeting its 2030 climate targets, according to a government report released today. The B.C. Government published the 2020 Climate Change Accountability Report, the first legally-required update on the province’s progress on meeting its climate targets. The report reveals that the gap to B.C.’s legislated 2030 target has increased significantly, from 5.5 megatons in the 2019 report to between 7.2 and 11.2 megatons, meaning that the gap has grown from 25 per cent when the plan was first announced to as much as 44 per cent. 

The government revealed that the plan to close that gap would be delayed by as much as a year. When CleanBC was unveiled in 2018, the government promised to complete their plan to achieve the 2030 target within 18 to 24 months, a deadline which expired earlier this month. Further emphasizing that the province has been headed in the wrong direction, B.C. unveiled a new 2025 target of 16 per cent below 2007 emissions. While ambitious given where the province is now, this target is much weaker than the province’s former 2016 and 2020 targets.

“Clearly this is a major setback for the government's plan to meet our climate targets,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director at Stand.earth. “However, we believe that if the Horgan government is transparent about what climate science tells us is necessary, and can demonstrate that all sectors of the economy are doing their part to get us back on track, that British Columbians will support the policies necessary to meet this challenge.”  

The gap between the emissions reductions covered by CleanBC and our legally-binding 2030 emissions target has widened because of continued emissions growth in 2018, lead by heavy duty trucks, oil and gas exploration and off-road industrial transport, and also because of technical changes to the way we calculate the impact of the shipping industry going back to 2007.

“Premier Horgan has said that LNG projects will only go ahead if they fit into our climate plan, and this report makes it absolutely clear that they do not,” said Andrew Radzik, Energy Campaigner for Georgia Strait Alliance. “We cannot expand fracking and go ahead with the unbuilt LNG Canada project and still meet our climate goals. This is a moment of truth for the Premier: he can be a real leader, taking the decisions we need for a stable climate, or he can support fracking and LNG. We no longer have time to pretend we can do both.”

The report shows that while other industrial sectors have reduced their emissions, oil and gas emissions continue to grow at an alarming rate and now emit more climate pollution than all other industries in the province combined.  

“It is clear that if we continue to allow the growth of oil and gas extraction in this province we won’t ever be able to get climate pollution under control” said Anjali Appadurai, Climate Justice Campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “The sooner we begin a serious conversation about the transition away from fracking and all other forms of fossil fuels, the less disruptive and painful the transition will be for workers, our communities, and the most vulnerable among us.”  

Although frustrated by decade-long delays in climate action, environmental organizations emphasized that today’s report and new target are essential elements of getting the province on track to achieving its climate goals and protecting British Columbians from climate change.  

“As alarming as today’s report is, it demonstrates that B.C.’s Climate Change Accountability Act is working,” said Matt Hulse, Lawyer,  Ecojustice. “The Act requires government to be transparent about the size of the climate challenges we face, so that the government can engage in an honest conversation with British Columbians about the work that needs to be done to address the climate crisis.”

“B.C.’s new 2025 target shows why setting targets is not enough; accountability for meeting those targets is essential. B.C. missed more ambitious targets in 2016 and 2020, and instead increased our emissions,” said Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law. “However, this new 2025 target, together with strong science-based plans and regular progress updates, can help us to answer the tough questions about where those emission reductions will come from and get us on track.” 

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Media contacts: 

Andrew Radzik, Energy Campaigner | Georgia Strait Alliance
andrew@georgiastrait.org, 778-896-4441

Anjali Appadurai, Climate Justice Campaigner | Sierra Club BC
Anjali@sierraclub.bc.ca, 604-328-6443

Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director | Stand.earth
sven@stand.earth, 778-882-8354

Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer | West Coast Environmental Law
agage@wcel.org, 250-412-9784

Matt Hulse, Lawyer | Ecojustice
mhulse@ecojustice.ca, 250-886-3464