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British Columbians committed to carbon reduction

By Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 7/25/2014 10:02:00 AM

A new survey commissioned by the Pembina Institute, Clean Energy Canada and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions confirms British Columbia (B.C.) residents’ reputation as committed to carbon reduction – at least so long as it doesn’t cause them to dig too deeply into their pocketbook.

The survey, released July 2014, was conducted April 1 and 2, 2014 and used the recently-signed Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy as its starting point. The action plan is a new agreement entered into by B.C. and the states of Washington, Oregon and California. In the action plan, the signatories make a number of general commitments, and the survey listed five of them, asking respondents to rate them on a range from ‘top priority’ to ‘not a priority’.

The commitments were:

  • Meet existing provincial targets to cut carbon pollution.
  • Ensure that, within two years, 10% of new vehicles purchased by governments and companies are electric vehicles.
  • Enable a transition to homes and buildings that require very little energy to heat and cool.
  • Continue using a carbon tax to reduce the pollution that causes climate change.
  • Maintain an existing requirement for lower carbon transportation fuels.

No commitment, not even the continuation of the province’s carbon tax, scored below 70% as a “priority” (top, high or low), a finding that augurs well for the carbon tax, says Pembina Institute Spokesperson Kevin Sauvé, given that the province has credited the carbon tax with helping to meet its 2012 greenhouse gas reduction target [see “Subsequent greenhouse gas reduction targets more challenging: BC report”].

“We know the policies they put in place were effective in meeting the interim target,” Sauvé told EcoLog News, referencing B.C.’s carbon emissions that in 2012 were 6% below 2007 levels, “but without further action and without strengthening things like the carbon tax, it’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to meet that 2020 target.” The province’s legislated target for 2020 is a 33% reduction in greenhouse gases below 2007 levels.

Sauvé concedes that the lowest cost commitments are likely the most popular. But then he returns to the carbon tax. Among respondents, 43% rated the continuation of the carbon tax as a top or high priority for the government.

“Even though taxes are not very popular, this particular one, relative to others, is popular,” he says.

Sauvé hopes the survey will be a bit of an eye-opener for the B.C. government if it proceeds with aggressive plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) developments, particularly in the area around Kitimat and Prince Rupert. The province’s LNG in B.C. website identifies 16 proposed LNG projects, half of which would be clustered around Kitimat and Prince Rupert.

“What they’re proposing now, we know will make it impossible for B.C. to meet its 2020 climate targets, should those plans go through,” says Sauvé.

For more information on the survey, visit http://www.pembina.org/2014-PCAP-polling-summary.



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