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Sectoral targets for GHG emissions reductions in BC

Tom Hackney, BCSEA Policy Advisor
Thursday, April 15, 2021

The BC government has just enacted sectoral targets for GHG emissions reductions under the Climate Change Accountability Act—a first for BC.

These specify GHG emissions reductions intended to be achieved by 2030 in four broad areas of BC’s economy, given as a range of percentage reductions below 2007 levels:

  • Transportation: 27% to 32%;
  • Oil and gas industry: 33% to 38%;
  • Industry other than oil and gas: 38% to 43%; and
  • Buildings and communities: 59% to 64%.

Together, the sectoral targets add up approximately to the 40% province-wide GHG emissions reduction target legislated for 2030. (The targets for 2040 and 2050 are 60% and 80% reductions respectively.)

The sectoral targets are not binding on anyone, and they have no enforcement mechanisms. However, they give a stronger indication of the government’s commitment than the essentially informational GHG reduction figures given for BC’s sectors in the 2018 CleanBC climate action plan. Now, GHG reduction actions will have increased specificity when the government presents its annual climate change accountability reporting to the legislature for debate. Hopefully, this will improve the quality of public discussion of climate action and give it a higher profile.

Specific plans are not yet provided to achieve the sectoral targets, but the government is pursuing many initiatives that could at some point coalesce into a detailed plan.

For buildings, federal and provincial incentives are offered for fuel switching and efficiency retrofits through the Better Buildings brand, and the just-released BC Building Electrification Roadmap—made in collaboration with the BC government, BC Hydro, and stakeholders—gives guidance on the government’s intended direction.

In transportation, the government has ramped up incentives to purchase EV and EV charging equipment, while BC Hydro and the FortisBC electric utility continue to extend BC’s DC fast charging network in their respective service areas. The government has also created an Active Transportation Strategy

In industry, the CleanBC Industry Fund supports industry with seed funding to pilot a range of GHG reducing practices. These include things like replacing gas-powered pumps with solar electric pumps at gas production facilities, supporting enhanced methane recovery from landfill sites, and using trolleys to replace diesel fuel with electricity in mining trucks.

Also, BC Hydro is now consulting with stakeholders on the development of a five-year electrification plan that it will file for review by the Utilities Commission later this year. The plan will support the governments work in transportation, industry, and buildings. (Stay tuned for a BCSEA article on this shortly.)

Commentary

The sectoral targets and other actions—such as the commitment to increase the 2050 GHG emissions reduction target to net-zero—show that the government is working hard to address the challenge of climate change.

Some people will reject oil and gas sector electrification as valid climate action measures. This raises the question of what economic activities BC needs in order to maintain an acceptable level of services and well-being.

So far, the government continues to treat the continuation of BC’s traditional resource-based economy as a constraint on the scope of climate action. Clearly, more radical climate actions are possible, but a big increase in public support may be needed before a government would consider implementing them. As noted above, the government has created an annual accountability process that can be a vehicle to increase the public debate and build support for stronger measures.