British Columbia (B.C.) is throwing in the towel on its 2020 greenhouse gas emission target. Instead, it is doing what jurisdictions across the land do when targets appear unattainable: raising the targets and moving the goalposts.
B.C.’s emission targets are set in law. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act requires that B.C. reduce its 2020 emissions to 33% below 2007 levels. The government has introduced an amending Bill that acknowledges in legislation what observers and the previous government had already acknowledged rhetorically: the target is beyond reach. Environment and Climate Change Strategy Minister George Heyman blames the previous government.
“A lack of effective climate policies that build on the success of early climate action in B.C. put the 2020 target out of reach today,” Heyman told the Legislature on May 7, 2018 during the introduction of Bill 34, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Amendment Act, 2018.
If Bill 34 passes, it will replace the 2020 target with more ambitious targets for 2030 (40% below 2007 levels) and 2040 (60% below 2007 levels). The current 2050 target of emissions 80% below 2007 levels is untouched. The Bill will also enable the minister to set sectoral greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and require the minister to produce detailed climate change adaptation reports every other year, beginning in 2020.
In a statement, Josha MacNab, national policy director at the Pembina Institute, also put the 2020 failure on the previous government’s shoulders and commended its successor for its current action.
“We applaud the government’s move to legislate new climate targets for 2030 and 2040 while simultaneously reaffirming its commitment to the 2050 target already in law,” said MacNab. “We are pleased the legislation will empower the environment minister to set sectoral targets.”
As experience from coast to coast to coast has so far demonstrated, setting targets is the easy part. As to meeting them, B.C. is promising another climate strategy in the fall 2018. The strategy will include sectoral plans for buildings and communities, and industry and transportation sectors.