Environment Minister Mary Polak joined the Canadian delegation in Lima, Peru this week to promote B.C.’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the latest United Nations climate conference.
Polak issued a statement from the 20th “Conference of the Parties” (COP20) conference Monday, highlighting efforts to work with Ontario, Quebec and California to take action ahead of their national governments.
“The science shows that climate change is occurring and we need to act now,” Polak said. “I hope our co-operation sets an example for other jurisdictions to follow as the nations of the world work toward achieving a comprehensive climate agreement at COP21 in Paris in 2015.”
In a year-end interview with Black Press, Premier Christy Clark remained optimistic that B.C. can meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by one third from 2007 levels by 2020, even while developing a natural gas export business that would be partly powered by burning gas.
“I think the bigger picture is what really matters, which is that in shipping 82 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas to Asia, we help them get off coal and other dirtier sources of oil, and that is the biggest contribution that we’ve ever made to reducing climate change,” Clark said.
B.C.’s carbon tax on fuels was followed by a decline in total emissions from the province since it was implemented in 2007. Provincial officials concede the 2008-09 economic crisis was a key factor in the initial decline, but they note that while economic activity has recovered, total emissions have not climbed.
Ontario ended all coal-fired electricity this year, and has invested heavily in wind and solar power in recent years.
Quebec has set a goal of 20 per cent reduction by 2020, starting from 1990 levels. It has instituted a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions patterned after California’s.