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NDP government forms new climate advisory council

British Columbia’s new Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council will help the province meet its climate targets, Minister George Heyman says.

An exterior view of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C.


An exterior view of the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C.

British Columbia has a new team dedicated to making sure the province reaches its climate targets.

Environment Minister George Heyman announced the formation of the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council on Monday.

The 22 people on the board, co-chaired by Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith and Teck Resources senior vice president of sustainability Marcia Smith, is made up of representatives from environmental organizations, industry groups, unions, universities, municipalities and First Nations.

The council effectively replaces the B.C. Liberal-assembled Climate Leadership Team, which was tasked with crafting a draft climate action plan in 2015, only to have many of its recommendations – such as an increase to the carbon tax – ignored.

Heyman said the council will pick up where the expert panel left off.

“This council is the successor of that team,” said Heyman. “We’ve asked the council to provide strategic advice to us as we begin the implement the elements of a climate action plan to meet the important and balanced set of recommendations put forward by the 2015 Climate Leadership Team.”

The government has already committed to raising the carbon tax by $20 a tonne in annual $5 increments starting in April 2018.

The province has a 2050 goal of reducing emissions by 80 per cent compared to 2007 levels but has already admitted defeat in reaching its 2020 goal in the face of rising emissions.

Heyman said the NDP plans to set a new 2030 target of a 40 per cent reduction from 2007 levels.

The council will meet quarterly and advise government on actions and policies it can take to reduce emissions and spur sustainable economic development.

It will also publicly report on the government’s progress.

“The good news is we don’t have to start from scratch,” said Karen Tam Wu, a member of the new council and acting executive director of the Pembina Institute in B.C. “There were a lot of good recommendations that the climate team put forward as a package [in 2015]. However, two years have gone by since so we really need to make sure we take swift action.”

Tam Wu said the current government has shown more a willingness to make climate action a priority.

“There’s been some early indications that they may well make good on this commitment,” she said. “I think this government will be picking up where the last government fell short and the advisory council will be providing direction on how to do that.”

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver welcomed the council while stressing the importance of its work.

“Our province is already feeling the effects of climate change, but the risks of inaction to the next generation are even greater,” Weaver said in a statement. “We have set the targets that we must achieve in order to ensure intergenerational equity with respect to mitigating the effects of climate change. We now must develop an actionable strategy to achieve these targets.”

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