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NDP climate plan features 2030 emissions target and more carbon tax rebates

NDP leader John Horgan says carbon tax rebates will be expanded to 80 per cent of families, if elected.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro File

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan.

British Columbia New Democratic Party leader John Horgan has promised to set 2030 emissions targets and expand carbon tax rebates if his party wins the upcoming election.

Horgan unveiled the NDP’s climate plan Thursday, which is largely based on the work of the government’s B.C. Climate Leadership Team tasked to guide Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals through its new climate plan only to see many recommendations ignored.

Horgan said his party would stick to a 2030 emissions reduction target of 40 per cent (compared to 2007 levels, though the number may be tinkered with leading up to the election) and gradually increase B.C.’s carbon tax over three years (in increments of $6 per tonne, $7 and $7) starting in 2020 to comply with federal requirements.

To offset the burden on taxpayers, Horgan said he would expand existing carbon tax rebates to approximately 80 per cent of families (double the people eligible for it now) and take all additional revenues from the tax and invest it into green initiatives.

“We’ve got a problem in British Columbia. Carbon pollution has been going up, not down,” Horgan said. “We can’t afford another decade of worsening carbon pollution. We need to take action. The only measure of a successful plan is the reduction of overall emissions. It’s not happening under the BC Liberals’ plan.”

Clark released the province’s climate plan last August, ruling out any increase to the $30 per tonne carbon tax at the time (before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans for a national $50 per tonne tax) and introducing measures that experts said would only take B.C. halfway to its 2050 emission reduction goal of 80 per cent.

Federal data shows that B.C.’s emissions have dipped only slightly since 2006 (63 megatonnes in 2014, from 65) and that it is on track to miss its target of reducing emissions 33 per cent by 2020.

The liquefied natural gas industry envisioned by the Liberals threatens to increase emissions significantly.

According to think-tank Clean Energy Canada, carbon pollution from LNG, natural gas, industry and utilities, transportation and buildings is projected to hit 68 million tonnes by 2030 under B.C.’s current plan.

“We need a government that’s committed to following through on the very, very good work that the Climate Leadership team put in front of the people of B.C.,” Horgan said. “The Liberals have rejected that, we want to embrace it.”

The B.C. provincial election is May 9.

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