FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 29, 2020
The new Canadian greenhouse gas emissions report shows that despite efforts to reduce climate pollution, B.C.’s annual emissions increased by 3.5% from 2017 to 2018, from 63.3 to 65.5 million tonnes annual emissions.
B.C.’s 2018 carbon emissions are even higher than in 2007, when the province announced its first emission reduction target of -33% by 2020. This goal is now unachievable and has been updated by the current government to -40% by 2030. There are currently only 10 years left to reach the new target.
Climate change as a result of carbon emissions is putting B.C. communities at increasing risk of wildfires, droughts, flooding, sea level rise and glacial melt, as outlined in the B.C. government’s 2019 climate risk assessment report. It is vital that emissions be reduced for our collective health and safety.
Post-pandemic economic recovery must reduce greenhouse gas emissions while supporting jobs and communities. CleanBC, the provincial climate plan, provides a blueprint for investments in job-creating climate strategies such as building retrofits and public transit that need to be a part of any economic stimulus package. Without strengthening, however, the plan is not strong enough to deliver the needed emission reductions.
Achieving our targets will also require B.C. to stop subsidizing the expansion of the fracked gas industry, including building LNG Canada and the Coastal GasLink pipeline. This infrastructure is expected to be among the biggest polluters of the country and undermines efforts to reduce B.C.’s emissions.
To reduce carbon emissions, investments in post-pandemic economic recovery must also protect nature and reform forest management to restore the health of B.C.’s forests. Healthy forests act as carbon sinks, removing carbon from the atmosphere. Yet as a result of poor forest management and worsening climate impacts like fires and insect outbreaks, for several years B.C.’s forests have been losing more carbon than they absorb.
Investing in forest conservation and improved forestry can create jobs that reduce carbon pollution through support for Indigenous-led conservation solutions, value-added wood product manufacturing, government stewardship, ecoforestry and restoration.
“B.C. has an opportunity to respond to the current economic crisis in a way that also addresses the climate crisis and respects nature’s limits,” says Sierra Club BC’s Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner Jens Wieting. “Just as we are taking the warnings about COVID-19 seriously, let’s also take the warnings about climate and ecosystem breakdown seriously. There will be no vaccination to save our natural life support systems, once they are gone. We must spend every dollar to ensure a safe future, not spend on things that leave us more vulnerable to future disasters.”
Canada’s National Inventory Report (NIR) — B.C. data in part 3 (pages 33/34): https://unfccc.int/documents/224829
B.C. climate risk assessment:
Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
Photo: Leila Darwish