Taxpayer cash for oil and gas: Horgan government subsidizes climate change by the billions 

Taxpayer cash for oil and gas: Horgan government subsidizes climate change by the billions 

Monday September 14, 2020

New report reveals that the BC government is giving away billions of dollars to corporate polluters 

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — A new report shows that Premier John Horgan’s British Columbia government has become one of the most generous subsidizers of oil and gas in Canada. 

The report, released by Stand.earth, reveals that BC is now second only to Alberta in providing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. 

“I was deeply disappointed to learn that this government, which was elected on a promise of fighting climate change, is in fact giving a billion dollors a year to the very industry that is driving the climate crisis,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director for Stand.earth. “The data in this report is shocking.  The numbers show that the Horgan government has increased subsidies to oil and gas companies by 79 per cent over Christy Clark’s government. You can not claim to be climate champion if you are funding the expansion of fossil fuels in a world on fire.”  

In just two years, the NDP government has doubled fossil fuel subsidies to $1 billion. The biggest source of this generosity is the deep-well royalty credit. At $350 million annually, BC has incurred $2.6 billion in outstanding royalty credits from natural gas producers, a liability that reduces public revenues for future generations.

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. Emissions from sky-rocketing liquid natural gas production alone would exceed BC’s target by 160 per cent. 

“This year, the BC Government will spend twice as much on tax breaks and direct subsidies for fracking companies and LNG as they do on their plan to fight climate change.” said Berman “If they are serious about climate change they need to commit to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and immediately cancel the deep well royalty credit.  If they don’t they are clearly signalling their priorities are putting the interest of the biggest polluters over climate safety.” 

Such massive subsidies for the fossil fuel industry—mostly to incentivize the LNG industry, which relies on fracking—only serve to increase greenhouse gas emissions, both in BC and in those countries that import and burn our fossil fuels. Methane emissions have a global warming impact 34 times greater than CO2 over 100 years, and the tens of thousands of unconventional wells (i.e. fracking) that dot the forests of northeastern BC leak a lot of methane. This means LNG is only 10 per cent cleaner than best-technology coal being built in China, hardly a “clean” alternative worth investing billions of dollars in.

“British Columbians were sold LNG on the promise it would be a windfall for them but this year taxpayers will subsidize oil and gas companies at a rate four times what the Province makes in royalties from the sector” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director for Stand.earth “At a time when so many people in this province are struggling just to pay the rent or keep their small business afloat we can not afford this kind of corporate welfare for big polluters.”    

The BC government needs to immediately cancel the deep-well royalty credit and embrace the federal government’s plan to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. 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 contacts: Ziona Eyob, Canadian Communications Manager, Stand.earth

+1 (604) 757-7279 / ziona@stand.earth

CORRECTION: A previous version of this release indicated "the numbers show that the Horgan government has increased subsidies to oil and gas companies by 97 per cent over Christy Clark’s government." The correct number is 79 per cent.