New climate target for B.C. oil and gas a move in the right direction

Friday March 26, 2021

Horgan government needs to follow up sectoral target announcement with detailed plan to reach targets

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Today, the British Columbia government announced the creation of new sectoral climate targets as part of the implementation of the Climate Change Accountability Act, which was passed by the Horgan government during their first term. These targets split B.C.’s economy into four broad sectors: oil and gas, other industries, buildings and communities, and transportation, and set 2030 climate pollution reduction targets for each sector. 

In the lead up to this announcement, Stand.earth called on the province to use the creation of these targets as a tool to ensure that oil and gas does its fair share to meet BC’s climate goals by creating a stand alone target for the oil and gas sector that declines at the same rate as the rest of the economy. While broadly speaking, today’s announcement accomplishes those goals, the hard work of creating the policies and regulations that will assure that the oil and gas sector reduces their climate pollution to meet today’s new targets, are still ahead of us.

“Today’s announcement is a small step forward for climate accountability in British Columbia but it also underlines how much work still has to be done” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director for Stand.earth “In particular, meeting the target of a 33-38 per cent reduction in climate pollution from the oil and gas sector by 2030 will require a complete about-face from the government on its policy of supporting expansion of the sector through almost $1 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies.”    

Currently, oil and gas activity produces 20 per cent of B.C.’s emissions, but contributes only three per cent to provincial GDP, and represents just 0.5 per cent of jobs in the province.  Reducing subsidies would reduce emissions and free up almost a billion dollars to support other sectors of the economy, like renewable energy, that create more employment and are projected to grow in the future.  

If construction on the LNG Canada terminal is completed, it will add four million tonnes of emissions per year — which would represent a 30 per cent increase in oil and gas emissions.

“Emissions from the oil and gas sector in British Columbia are still rising under this government. So while these targets are good, where is the plan to meet them?” said Kiki Wood, Senior Oil and Gas Campaigner at Stand.earth “Unless the government changes direction on new fossil fuel projects, like LNG Canada, there is no chance that these targets will be met.”   

Despite Premier Horgan making climate change a priority for his government, B.C.’s emissions have continued to rise, and in late 2020 the Province revealed 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 provincial government will continue to struggle to meet its climate aspirations as long as it fails to hold oil and gas accountable for their climate pollution. 

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Media contacts: 

Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil & Gas Campaigns Director, sven@stand.earth, +1 778 882 8354 (Pacific Time)

Kiki Wood, Senior Oil and Gas Campaigner, kiki@stand.earth, +1 902 489 3925 (Pacific Time)