Business Examiner (Vancouver Island)

B.C.'s lofty goal to get rid of a third of its greenhouse gas emissions in the next 13 years
is well within reach, says a key member of the provincial government's new climate
action team.
Andrew Weaver, Canada research chair in atmospheric science at the University of
Victoria, says North America's most ambitious short-term target can be reached mainly
with education and tax incentives to help people choose energy-efficient vehicles and
"Thirty-three per cent is not that difficult," said Weaver, who shared the recent Nobel
Prize for his work on United Nations climate reports. "For many people, it's about saving
Premier Gordon Campbell introduced the 22-member advisory team Tuesday, and
Environment Minister Barry Penner introduced legislation that will require the first target
to be met by 2020. By 2050, the law will require 80 per cent of emissions to be gone,
which implies a huge transformation of the B.C. economy.
The government has given itself until the end of 2008 to set interim targets for 2012 and
2016, based on options set out by the climate action team. The mix of mostly scientific
and industry representatives in the group offers some indication of where it may go.
Named as a special advisor is Mark Jaccard, a resource economist at Simon Fraser
University and former chair of the B.C. Utilities Commission. He argued in a recent book
that greenhouse gases are most likely to be controlled by using fossil fuels and capturing
their carbon emissions, rather than converting to entirely new energy sources.
Also named to the team is 100 Mile House Mayor Donna Barnett, who chairs the Cariboo
Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition. Weaver and other leading climate scientists stress that
the past century of industrialization has already loaded the atmosphere with enough
carbon dioxide and other insulating gases that coping with things like insect outbreaks
and flooding must be part of any strategy.
Premier Gordon Campbell said there has to be a long-term approach.
"If we try and tell people we can do this in 13 months, we're not going to be successful,"
Campbell said. "What we've said initially is we're going to do it in 13 years. And as Bill
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Gates once said, we'll accomplish way less in two years than we expect, and way more in
NDP environment critic Shane Simpson said he is concerned that the climate action
team's recommendations may not be fully made public, and that important viewpoints are
not represented.
"There's nobody representing local government from a larger urban centre where most of
your challenges are around transportation, around growth, around urban sustainability
issues," Simpson said, adding that Peter Robinson, incoming CEO of the David Suzuki
Foundation, is the only environmentalist on the list.
Penner acknowledged that much of the B.C. plan depends on regulations that have not yet
been created.
"Because this is an evolving science we need to have some flexibility to incorporate the
information we're going to be getting from the climate action team," he said.
Penner said B.C.'s target for 2020 is the highest in North America, exceeding California's
while matching its commitment to enshrine it in law.
"The climate change specialists say anything between 60 to 90 per cent is what they're
looking for to try and stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, so this bill gives
us the legal imperative to do that," Penner said.