Stand.earth reacts to BC stimulus package

Stand.earth reacts to BC stimulus package

Thursday September 17, 2020

Provincial government economic stimulus package contains less than half of the recommended funds to address climate change

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — The government of British Columbia announced today that it will be allocating $220 million out of its $1.5 billion economic stimulus package towards climate mitigation and adaptation. 

Today’s announcement falls well short of the recommendations made by British Columbia’s Climate Solutions Council, a government appointed advisory body, who wrote to the Premier and several senior members of Cabinet on June 12, 2020 to recommend that at least $500M of this package be committed to climate mitigation and adaptation.

“I am disappointed that Premier Horgan would ignore the recommendations of their own handpicked advisory body on climate,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director for Stand.earth. “We have an enormous opportunity right now to rebuild our economy in a way that is fairer and more sustainable. I hope this government seizes it in their upcoming platform and in next year's budget.”  

Meanwhile, the provincial government continues to subsidize fossil fuels to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars. According to Stand.earth's recent report, BC Premier John Horgan — who positioned himself as a climate leader during the last election campaign — increased the province's subsidies for fossil fuels by 79 per cent compared to Christy Clark’s previous administration. Fossil fuel subsidies are a huge barrier to climate action and transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels. They make it almost impossible for BC to meet its 2050 carbon emission targets. 

“Even with today’s announcement, the BC Government will still spend more in 2020 on fossil fuel subsidies than they do on their entire plan to fight climate change,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director at Stand.earth. “If they are serious about fighting climate change they need to commit to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and immediately cancel the deep well royalty credit.”  

The impacts of climate change have dominated headlines week after week: wildfires are ravaging communities, and air quality throughout southern BC and the Pacific Northwest is currently ranked among the poorest in the world. Meanwhile, remaining old-growth forests continue to be targeted for logging, including for high-polluting biomass exports. Old-growth forests in BC are among the most carbon-rich in the world and critical to mitigating the impacts of climate change, but in spite of the government’s own research panel urging for immediate logging deferrals in at-risk forests, the province has opted to leave the vast majority of the iconic giants open to logging.

“Premier Horgan’s government continues to ignore the science when it comes to forests and climate change, including the recent recommendations of their own old growth panelists,” said Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner at Stand.earth. “We need immediate deferrals for the most at-risk, carbon-rich old growth forests. Instead, this government is subsidizing forest-based wood pellet exports for overseas electricity production, which not only destroy forests but are also more polluting at the stack than coal.” 

The BC government needs to prove that it’s serious about making climate change a priority. Horgan’s government can no longer misappropriate environmental funds in order to subsidize polluting industries such as fossil fuels — including liquefied natural gas (LNG) — and forest-based biomass fuel for export. This will free up hundreds of millions of dollars annually to invest in the province’s economic recovery from the COVID pandemic, meeting its emissions reduction targets and transitioning to a clean energy economy.

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Media contact: Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil & Gas Campaigns Director, sven@stand.earth, +1 778 882 8354 (PST)