December 11, 2023
Two announcements made during COP28 in Dubai show progress and shortcomings in B.C.’s and Canada’s efforts to limit the impacts of climate change.
VANCOUVER/UNCEDED xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) TERRITORIES – Sierra Club BC is following the conclusion of COP28 closely, in particular whether the international community can agree on the goal of phasing out of all fossil fuels, which is indispensable if leaders want to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The outcome of COP28 could support or hinder progress towards meeting targets in B.C. and Canada.
The BC Climate Change Accountability Report 2023
The B.C. Climate Change Accountability Report (CCAR) released on December 1 shows that greenhouse gas emissions in the province increased slightly between 2020 and 2021, and have decreased overall by only three percent compared to 2007 levels. This places the province far from its goal of a 40 percent reduction in emissions from 2007 levels by the year 2030.
The report shows that the sectors labeled ‘Transportation’ and ‘Other industries’ are projected to meet their 2030 target range, but the ‘Buildings’ and ‘Oil and Gas’ sectors are not on track to meet reduction targets.
The Climate Change Accountability Act requires the provincial government to publish annual reports with plans detailing how the province will meet climate targets. As in previous reports, the most recent CCAR does not include complete plans to achieve emissions targets in each sector. The report presents modelling that shows existing policies could get us close to the 2025 and 2030 targets, but there is no modelling for the 2040 and 2050 targets. And in the modeling that is presented, questionable assumptions around new LNG terminals and hoped-for emissions caps cast doubt on the report’s conclusions about future emissions.
“Premier Eby was right when he said that we cannot continue to expand fossil fuel infrastructure and hit our climate goals. The B.C. government must swiftly enact the long-anticipated oil and gas emissions cap and effectively limit how much LNG will be produced in B.C. to have a chance of meeting the oil and gas target. We need this certainty to avoid undermining progress in other sectors and increasing other countries’ dependency on fossil fuels,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s Science Advisor.
Canada’s Regulatory Framework for and Oil and Gas Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap
During COP28, Canada announced a new framework to cap emissions from oil and gas production through a cap and trade system. It seeks to cap 2030 emissions from oil and gas production at 35 to 38 percent below 2019 levels, forcing oil companies to rachet down their emissions which are currently the single largest source of greenhouse gases in the country. And with built-in “compliance flexibilities” in the framework, the actual cap will be 20 to 23 percent below 2019 levels.
“Limiting pollution from oil and gas production is a reasonable step toward reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Shelley Luce, Sierra Club BC’s Campaigns Director. “Canada and B.C. have allowed high-carbon projects to export fossil fuels, including fracked LNG, for far too long. We know we cannot meet our climate goals, and maintain a livable future, without reducing oil and gas emissions. The new emissions cap is a step in the right direction.”
Uncertainty and risks to meeting provincial and federal 2030 targets, in particular those for the oil and gas sector, require additional action to amend frameworks and close loopholes. The B.C. government now has an opportunity to swiftly enact their own provincial cap to support global efforts to phase out fossil fuels as a necessary step for a livable climate.