B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions quadruple when emissions from fossil fuel exports and forests are counted, according to a Sierra Club BC report released on September 13.
In June, the B.C. government reported that the province’s 2010 emissions had dropped by 4.5 percent to 62 million tonnes. But the Sierra Club report, “Emissions Impossible?”, reveals that B.C.’s 2010 carbon emissions are actually four times higher, totalling more than 250 million tonnes when uncounted emissions from fossil fuel exports and forests are included.
“Half of our polar ice cap is missing, but the BC government is proposing new coal mines and gas terminals without paying attention to the consequences for global warming,“ said Sierra Club BC forest campaigner Jens Wieting, co-author of the report, “Emissions Impossible? British Columbia’s Uncounted Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”
In a Globe and Mail article Environment Minister Terry Lake rejected the findings of the report, saying the Sierra Club “knows international agreements don’t require the province to report emissions that are beyond its control, including those associated with exported products.”
The actual conclusion in our report: “The government will have to continue to report official emissions following rules agreed to internationally. However, the official emissions should be considered as just one category in a full carbon footprint report, which includes information about emissions from all sectors of our economy and land use as well as progress toward meeting emissions reduction goals.”
Reporting our official emissions is simply not good enough to inform good climate decision-making: Read the op ed by Ana Simeon and Jens Wieting.
The report warns that, if current emissions remain unchecked and new fossil fuel infrastructure is built as planned, by 2020 British Columbia could contribute over 600 million tonnes of emissions, more than doubling current emissions – a figure 10 times higher than official provincial emissions.
Sierra Club BC is calling for a new climate action plan that positions B.C. as a world leader by counting emissions from fossil fuel exports and forests, as well as for B.C. to meet stricter reduction targets that address all sectors of our economy and land use.
“We can fool ourselves but we can’t fool the atmosphere,” said Sierra Club BC Science Advisor Dr. Colin Campbell. “We have turned a blind eye to our true carbon footprint but the good news is that when we look at the big picture we have many more opportunities to reduce emissions drastically than we have so far imagined.”
Feature image by TJ Watt