Join us as we tackle government and industry spin to shed a light on the current state of old-growth forests in B.C.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2021
Environmental organizations issue report card six months after publication of Old-Growth Panel Recommendations.
“VICTORIA (Unceded Lekwungen Territories) — Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee issued a report card today assessing the B.C. government’s progress on protecting old-growth forests. Today marks exactly six months since the provincial government published the report from its independent old-growth panel. Premier John Horgan promised to implement the panel’s recommendations “in their totality” shortly after.2021_Old-Growth_ReportCard_Final
The panel called for a paradigm-shift to safeguard the biodiversity of forests in B.C. with a three-year framework, including logging deferrals for all at-risk old-growth forests within the first six months. Half a year later almost all at-risk forests remain open for logging and the B.C. government has not developed a plan with milestone dates and funding.
“Government promised a ‘new direction’ for old-growth forests and then spent six months dragging its heels and refusing to protect the most endangered stands,” said Andrea Inness, campaigner for the Ancient Forest Alliance. “The government published the recommendations six months ago, but it received the report containing them on April 30, 2020 — by any measure they’ve missed this crucial deadline.”
Endangered old-growth stands across the province continue to be targeted by logging companies and the exact forests the panel called for urgent action to protect are being lost. At the same time, the lack of a concrete plan is leaving First Nations and forestry workers with uncertainty about whether conservation, economic diversification and the transition to sustainable second-growth forestry will be adequately funded.
“As long as we continue to rely on a dwindling supply of endangered old-growth forests, B.C.’s forest sector will continue to face uncertainty and instability,” said Cam Shiell, environmental sustainability officer with the Public and Private Workers of Canada, a union that represents thousands of workers in the B.C. forest industry.
“The provincial government can’t delay action any longer, it must take meaningful steps to protect old-growth forests, lead the transition to sustainable, value-added second-growth forestry and create the forest industry of the future.”
The organizations’ report card grades progress on five key areas related to the 14 recommendations: immediate action for at-risk forests (D), three-year work plan with milestone dates (F), charting a new course prioritizing ecosystem integrity and biodiversity (F), funding for implementation, First nations conservation and forestry transition plans (F) and transparency and communication (F).
“Promising a new direction and then avoiding any meaningful action to ensure the most at-risk old-growth forests are protected is not a ‘paradigm shift,’ it’s the same old talk and log,” said Jens Wieting, forest and climate campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “The evidence is clear: Premier Horgan’s government is likely the last one with a chance to save the last old-growth forests as a legacy for future generations.”
In its initial response in September, the province acknowledged status quo management of old-growth forests had “caused a loss of biodiversity,” recognized the “need to do better” and announced nine deferral areas encompassing 353,000 hectares. Horgan and the BC NDP have claimed these deferrals ‘protected old-growth,’ but a closer review revealed most of this area is either already under some form of protection or is second-growth forest and still open to logging.
According to independent experts, as of 2020, only about 415,000 hectares of old-growth forest with big trees remain in B.C., mostly without protection. Only 3,800 hectares or one per cent of the remaining fraction of this kind of forest was included in the government’s deferral areas. Old-growth logging continues at an average rate of hundreds of soccer fields per day, always targeting the biggest accessible trees that remain.
The old-growth panel report found broad agreement for a paradigm-shift to respond to the biodiversity crisis in B.C.’s forests which reflects polling results showing more than 90 per cent support for old-growth protection. The lack of social license or free, prior and informed consent for continued old-growth logging in the province is also highlighted by the ongoing blockades at Fairy Creek on unceded Pacheedaht territory (southern Vancouver Island), which have been in place for seven months.
“Nothing the Horgan government has done so far is preventing the most endangered old-growth forests in the province from being mowed down, and the public knows it,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee. “The BC government must immediately defer logging in at-risk old-growth and commit substantial funding to support the economic diversification of First Nations and forestry communities to ensure the long-term sustainability of both jobs and the environment.”
Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and the Wilderness Committee will continue to mobilize their tens of thousands of supporters and hold the government accountable for its old-growth promises. The next report card will be issued on Sep. 11, 2021.
For background and additional information click here.
For more information, please contact:
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
Andrea Inness, Campaigner, Ancient Forest Alliance
Environmental groups and First Nations give provincial government poor grades as old-growth logging continues
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 20212
VICTORIA (Unceded Lekwungen Territories) — In the 18 months since the B.C. government promised to implement the recommendations of the Old-Growth Strategic Review (OGSR) panel, only 24 percent of the most at-risk old-growth forests have been deferred from logging.
The findings are part of an assessment by the Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee, who today issued a report card grading the B.C. government’s progress on implementing the recommendations of the OGSR panel. This is the third report card issued since the panel’s recommendations were released on September 11, 2020, and falls at the halfway point of the three-year framework the panel laid out.
The OGSR panel’s recommendations included taking immediate action to protect at-risk old-growth forests and a paradigm shift away from a focus on timber value and towards safeguarding biodiversity and the ecological integrity of all forests in B.C.
“The B.C. government has taken some small, slow actions, but has not delivered the fundamental change it promised in the wake of the old-growth panel’s report and in the last provincial election,” said Torrance Coste, national campaign director for the Wilderness Committee. “Premier John Horgan has set some nice intentions for old-growth forests, but done very little to actually limit logging of the most endangered stands – this is more talk-and-log, not the beginning of a paradigm shift.”
Using the limited publicly available data around confirmed old-growth deferrals and logging, the three organizations have calculated that in the 18 months since the Horgan government committed to these recommendations, approximately 624,000 hectares or 24 percent of the 2.6 million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth has been confirmed for deferral or a pause on logging.
The past year has seen the establishment of a Technical Advisory Panel to provide expert guidance around old-growth deferrals and the announcement of the government’s intention to defer logging in 2.6 million hectares of the most at-risk old-growth in November 2021. For the first time, the government has adopted a scientific assessment of the state of old-growth forests in B.C., with a priority on protecting the biggest and oldest trees. But the various announcements and new processes haven’t resulted in substantial on-the-ground protection for threatened forests.
The government’s approach has been criticized by environmentalists and Indigenous leaders as putting unfair pressure on First Nations without providing adequate resources and support.
“The BC NDP government has neglected its responsibility to take swift action and despite all the words and promises, chainsaws continue to roar and threatened old-growth forests across B.C. remain without protection,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “Premier John Horgan promised permanent protection of old-growth forests, but without providing a clear plan and adequate resources his government has put First Nations in an impossible position – moving slowly is no longer an option if we’re serious about leaving old-growth for our children and grandchildren.”
Last year, the province made some funding commitments to help First Nations review deferral options and support forestry workers impacted by deferrals. Budget 2022 included $185 million to help workers and communities and enable deferrals. This funding commitment is a significant step but not enough to enable both short-term deferrals and lasting Indigenous-led conservation solutions. The federal government has pledged $2.3 billion to achieve the protection of 30 percent of Canada’s landmass by 2030 but the B.C. government has yet to embrace this target and use this opportunity to secure a significant portion of these federal funds to support old-growth protection.
“The B.C. government has taken a step in the right direction in funding for old-growth,” stated Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner and photographer TJ Watt. “However, they’ve fallen short on the amount needed to relieve the economic pressure faced by First Nations so that logging deferrals can become an economically viable option. This funding shortfall makes enacting the full suite of old-growth logging deferrals virtually impossible to achieve. B.C. also has a golden opportunity to obtain hundreds of millions in federal funding to support the creation of new Indigenous Protected Areas. It’s high time they embraced this.”
Of the 2.6 million hectares recommended for deferral in November 2021, the province hasn’t provided consistent updates on how much has been deferred to date.
“We are halfway through the timeline laid out in the old-growth recommendations Premier John Horgan promised to implement, but only a small amount of the most at-risk forest in B.C. is temporarily off the chopping block and there is still no path to permanent protection,” said Jens Wieting, senior forest and climate campaigner with Sierra Club BC. “With every day of delay, irreplaceable ancient forests, the web of life that depends on them and our last defense against the climate crisis are clearcut. We must stop the bleeding now.“
Ancient Forest Alliance, Sierra Club BC and Wilderness Committee are calling on the B.C. government to: immediately defer logging in all at-risk old-growth forests while compensating for any lost revenue for First Nations, increase funding to support deferrals, economic transition and permanent protection to at least $300 million, implement legislation to protect biodiversity across B.C., establish a plan with milestones consistent with the OGSR framework and regularly publish accurate and detailed progress updates on the deferral process.
Download a PDF of the full report card here.
Download a JPEG version of the full report card here.
For more information, please contact:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director, Wilderness Committee
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner/Science Advisor, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, firstname.lastname@example.org
TJ Watt, Campaigner and Photographer, Ancient Forest Alliance
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2021
Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa — Environmental groups are demanding that Premier Jason Kenney retract statements and issue an apology for communications they say are defamatory and directly contrary to the findings of the Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns. In a letter to the premier, groups say these statements were designed to undermine their reputations and credibility and misrepresent the facts to the public, and state they are considering legal action if he does not back down.
“Premier Kenney and the Alberta government are misrepresenting the results of the Alberta Inquiry, which found no wrongdoing by environmental groups,” said Tim Gray, Executive Director of Environmental Defence. “We’ve all seen the dangers of such practices where truth is distorted, especially on social media. We’re asking that Premier Kenney correct the record.”
The letter states:
We have reviewed the statements published by the Alberta government in its “Key Findings” document and subsequently repeated and amplified by you on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, including the patently false claim that the Inquiry’s “report confirms the existence of well-funded foreign interests that have been waging a decade-long campaign of misinformation. These statements are defamatory as they assert that our clients have deliberately spread “misinformation.”
In fact, Commissioner Allan was unequivocal in his report that he was making no such finding.
Groups, including Environmental Defence, West Coast Environmental Law, Greenpeace Canada, Raincoast Conservation, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Sierra Club of British Columbia, Western Canada Wilderness Committee and Dogwood Initiative, are asking Premier Kenney/the Alberta government to:
- Remove the defamatory statements published on the government of Alberta’s website.
- Retract earlier defamatory statements.
- Publish an apology to the groups on Premier Kenney’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“Climate change is causing devastating impacts across Canada, from catastrophic flooding and forest fires in British Columbia, thawing permafrost and sea ice in the North, to increasingly dangerous storms in Atlantic Canada,” said Jessica Clogg, Executive Director and Senior Counsel of West Coast Environmental Law. “Yet, Premier Kenney continues to attempt to delegitimize factual and legitimate concerns about what needs to be done to protect Canadians and the environment. This anti-democratic and dangerous witch hunt must end so civil society organizations can safely get back to the important work of addressing the climate emergency.”
Groups are giving Premier Kenney until November 30th to respond.
For more information, please contact:
Allen Braude | Senior Communications Manager, Environmental Defence email@example.com, (416) 356-2587
Paul Champ | Human Rights Lawyer
Anna Johnston | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
firstname.lastname@example.org, (604) 340-2304
They are joined by 39 NGOs from Asia, Africa, South and North America, Europe and Australia.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 13, 2021
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — More than 260,000 people from nearly every country in the world have signed a petition calling on the B.C. government to “stop the felling of ancient giants and protect British Columbia’s temperate old-growth forests.”
The petition was started by the Germany-based environmental organization Rainforest Rescue with support from Sierra Club BC, and was signed by residents of Europe, Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Russia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and almost all other countries in the world.
In addition to the petition, the B.C. government received an open letter today that is co-signed by Sierra Club BC, Rainforest Rescue and 37 NGOs from Asia, Africa, South and North America, Europe and Australia, just weeks ahead of COP26, the crucial UN climate conference kicking off in Glasgow on October 31, 2021.
The letter (which can be found here or at the bottom of this page) calls on the provincial government to keep its promise and safeguard the last remaining old-growth forests in B.C., “which are among the most endangered on the planet.”
“Deforestation and environmental destruction are a global catastrophe that fuels the climate crisis and accelerates the sixth mass extinction of species. Unfortunately, the B.C. government ignores its global responsibility to protect some of the last old-growth forests in the Western hemisphere,” said Mathias Rittgerott, a spokesperson with Rainforest Rescue.
“In many parts of the world, particularly in the global south, Indigenous Peoples are working tirelessly to protect the world’s forests. Many forest defenders risk their life, and some even lose their life, for this greater good. Meanwhile, the B.C. government bows to the short-term economic interests of a few companies. We can’t fight the climate crisis and mass extinction without protecting the world’s forests. B.C. must do its share—or we will all fail,” added Rittgerott.
“The ravaging of the world’s remaining forest ecosystems irrespective of their location is a global pandemic that calls for localized global action across nations,” said Dr. Martins Egot, Executive Director of Development Concern in Nigeria.
Mapping and analysis by independent B.C. scientists shows that after decades of industrial clearcutting only a small fraction of old-growth forests with big trees and irrecoverable ecological, cultural and carbon values remains standing in B.C. and even less is protected from logging.
The B.C. government shared its Old-Growth Panel report and Premier John Horgan committed to implementing all of the panel’s recommendations in the fall of 2020. The panel called on the province to work with Indigenous governments to transform forest management within three years, including immediate action to protect at-risk old-growth forests and a paradigm shift away from a focus on timber value towards safeguarding biodiversity of all forests in B.C.
One year later, most at-risk forests in B.C. remain open to logging and despite repeated remarks from the provincial government about an end-of-summer announcement, concerned communities are still waiting for interim protection for all endangered old-growth. In the meantime, police violence and arrests continued on Southern Vancouver Island where arrests of forest defenders surpassed 1,100, making it Canada’s biggest-ever act of civil disobedience.
“There are few places in the world that could do so much to save old-growth forests, uphold the rights of Indigenous People, save biodiversity and slow down the climate crisis all at the same time. International petitions and letters are a powerful reminder that the world is watching the old-growth emergency in British Columbia, said Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner at Sierra Club BC. “The final weeks before the UN climate conference in Glasgow are a crucial time for the B.C. government to change course, show leadership and inspire other parts of the world to do the same.”
- For more background read SCBC’s recent media release and NGO report card on B.C.’s implementation of the old-growth panel recommendations
- Download the open letter from 39 International NGOs
- Read the petition signed by 260,000 people from around the world
For media inquiries, please contact:
Jens Wieting, Senior Forest and Climate Campaigner, Sierra Club BC
604-354 5312, email@example.com
Mathias Rittgerott, Rainforest Rescue (based in Montreal, QC)
Dr. Martins Egot, Executive Director, Development Concern (based in Nigeria)
Can be contacted via Rainforest Rescue
October 13, 2021
Dear Premier Horgan,
We the undersigned—39 non-government organizations from Asia, Africa, South- and North
America, Europe and Australia—are writing you together with more than a quarter million
people from around the world to appeal to the government of British Columbia to keep your
promise and safeguard the threatened old-growth forests of this province, which are among
the most endangered of the planet.
The globally rare old-growth forests in B.C., as well as the biodiversity and Indigenous
knowledge and cultures linked to them, do not exist anywhere else and are irreplaceable. When
these forests are cut, they will not grow back to the same grandeur and diversity in our
Shockingly, after decades of industrial clearcutting, old-growth forests with big trees have been
reduced to a small fraction of their original extent in this province, and the majority of what
remains standing is still without protection. Your government continues to allow some of the
tallest trees in the world to be cut down for short-term profit.
We are appalled by the images of police violence against Indigenous youth and other peaceful
land defenders and the reports about hundreds of people being arrested to enable clearcutting
of ancient forests for short-term profit in B.C.
In many countries, especially in the global south, Indigenous Peoples, civil society and
governments are working tirelessly to protect the world’s forests which are home to millions of
people, indispensable allies in the fight against the climate crisis, and the source of enormous
biodiversity. Many forest defenders risk their life for this greater good, and some even lose
Canada, as a country with one of the largest forest areas on Earth, has a responsibility to lead
the fight to save forests. This is especially true since Canada’s population has contributed more
to the climate crisis than many other countries. Within Canada, no other province other than
B.C. could do more to protect rare, carbon-rich old-growth forests. To date, Canada and B.C. are
failing to live up to their responsibilities, because of companies based in your country and
province are involved in reckless resource extraction and environmental destruction—at home
and around the globe.
Protecting the remaining ancient forests in B.C. matters to people around the world and for the
future of all life on Earth. We cannot address the interlinked climate, biodiversity and social
justice crises without protecting and restoring them.
Despite your promise to take short-term action for endangered old-growth forests, clearcutting
of some of the tallest trees in the world continues unabated. It is time for your government to
lead on old-growth protection and to inspire other countries to do the same.
In light of the escalating climate and biodiversity emergencies around the world, including in
your province, we are calling on you to immediately defer logging of all at-risk old-growth
forests and implement long-term conservation solutions that respect the rights of Indigenous
Peoples, as promised by your government.
Ancient Forest Alliance, Canada, Ian Illuminato, Forest Campaigner
ARA / denkhausbremen, Germany, Wolfgang Kuhlmann, Director
Borneo Orangutan Survival – BOS Deutschland, Germany, Daniel Merdes, CEO
Both Ends, Netherlands, Paul Wolvekamp, Senior policy advisor
CALG – Coalition against land grabbing, Philippines, Sisang Dela Cruz, Assistant to the Executive
Congo Basin Conservation Society (CBCS), DRC, Josue Aruna, Executive Director
Devcon – Development Concern, Nigeria, Martins Egot, Executive Director
Earth Island Institute, Canada, Dominick DellaSala, Chief Scientist
Ecodevelop, Germany, Hans Christian Offer, Forest ecologist
Fern, EU / Belgium, Julia Christian, Campaigner
FLIGHT – Protecting Indonesia’s Birds, Indonesia, Marison Guciano, Executive Director
Friends of the Earth United States, USA, Jeff Conant, S. International Forest Program Manager
Global Justice Ecology Project, USA, Anne Petermann, Executive Director
Jatam – Mining Advocacy Network, Indonesia, Moh. Taufik, Bachelor of Law
Kené Instituto de Estudios Forestales y Ambientales, Peru, Lucila Pautrat Oyarzún, President
National Assoc. of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), Uganda, Frank Muramuzi, Executive
NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark, Denmark, Mads Kjærgaard Lange, secretary
Northern Confluence Initiative, Canada, Nikki Skuce, Director
Oakland Institute, USA, Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director
Partnership for Policy Integrity, USA, Mary S. Booth, Director
Perkumpulan Hijau, Indonesia, Feri Irawan, Direktor
Quercus – ANCN, Portugal, Alexandra Azevedo, President
Rainforest Rescue, Australia, Branden Barber, CEO
Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC), Nigeria, Odey Oyama, Executive Director
Réseau CREF, DRC, François Biloko, Secrétaire Général
Rettet den Regenwald, Germany, Marianne Klute, Chairwoman
Robin Wood, Germany, Jana Ballenthien, Forest Campainer
SADIA, Malaysia, Matek Geramn, Indigenous rights defender
Save Estonia’s Forests, Estonia, Liina Steinberg, Member of board
Save Virunga, Netherlands/DRC, Tina Lain, Co-founder
Sierra Club British Columbia, Canada, Jens Wieting, Senior Forest Campaigner
The Gaia Foundation, UK, Carlotta Byrne, Earth Jurisprudence Program Coordinator
WALHI NTT – Eastern Sunda Islands, Indonesia, Umbu Wulang, Direktor
WALHI Papua, Indonesia, Aiesh Rumbekwan, Director
WATER – Wise Administration of Terrestrial Environment and Resources, Nigeria, Chief Edwin
Ogar, Program coordinator
West Kootenay EcoSociety, Canada, Kendra Norwood, Conservation Director
Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), Germany/Liberia, Prof. Christophe Boesch, Founder and
Wilderness Committee, Canada, Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), Canada/USA, Candace Batycki, Program Director, BC and Yukon
Broad coalition calls for urgent provincial action to confront the climate emergency.
September 28, 2021
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and səlilwətaɬ territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — In the wake of this summer’s deadly heatwave and unprecedented fires, today, nearly 200 organizations representing well over one million British Columbians – a diverse network of environmental, Indigenous, labour, health, business, faith, and youth groups – joined in a call to the BC government to fundamentally reboot its CleanBC plan and implement a genuine and transformative climate emergency plan.
Their open letter – “An Urgent Call to the BC Government to Confront the Climate Emergency” – calls on the government to demonstrate the necessary leadership and immediately undertake 10 bold emergency actions. (The open letter with the full list of organizational supporters follows below. It can also be found here.)
The list of signatories includes the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit, and the BC Assembly of First Nations; labour organizations, including the Public Service Alliance of Canada (BC Region) and the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC; faith groups, including the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster; health organizations such as the Public Health Association of BC; arts and culture groups; community groups such as the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC; youth groups such as the Sustainabiliteens; and businesses such as Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics and Renewal Funds.
The signatory list also includes major environmental organizations Stand.earth, Dogwood, Leadnow, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club BC, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, West Coast Environmental Law, and Climate Caucus (a network of municipal elected councillors committed to climate action).
“Simply put, CleanBC does not sufficiently address the severity of the climate crisis,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “The allowances for dirty emissions from the fossil fuel sector and forestry will increase the deadly and devastating impacts that communities across the province and the world are experiencing, and are not going to help us pay for a just transition to a clean economy. The Province must fully accept that they need to come up with an alternative economy because we aren’t going to achieve a clean BC with dirty fossil fuels.”
Last month, Phillip was one of five original endorsers of CleanBC who, in a piece in the Tyee, signaled they had lost confidence in the ability of the province’s climate plan to adequately respond to the climate emergency.
“Emergencies require responses that look, sound and feel to the public like genuine emergency plans,” said Seth Klein, team lead with the Climate Emergency Unit. “The current BC approach doesn’t do that. It is lacking in ambition, urgency and coherence. The 10 actions in this open letter would constitute a real crisis response.”
The 10 actions include increasing the ambition of BC’s GHG reduction targets, boosting spending on climate actions, ending fossil fuel subsidies and new infrastructure, and significantly moving forward the dates for zero-emission vehicles and buildings.
“If we are going to have a coherent climate plan, BC needs to stop supporting the expansion of fracking and LNG,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director. “CleanBC has some good bones but it cannot be successful if the BC government continues to pour money into growing fossil fuels. In 2020 alone, BC provided $1.3 billion in subsidies and incentives to the oil and gas industry, double what they spent on CleanBC. The government has broken its promise to show how LNG projects are consistent with the province’s legislated targets, and it is now clear that BC will never meet its GHG targets if this industry continues to expand.”
CleanBC was tabled three years ago and isn’t sufficient to address the crisis and reach our 2030 goals. Currently, BC’s heat-trapping carbon emissions are rising, not decreasing. This summer the crisis was underscored by an unprecedented heat dome; the BC Coroner reported nearly 600 British Columbians perished in one week, due to extreme heat.
“I still taste smoke from the firestorm that erased our house and 90% of Lytton as we fled that unexpected and unstoppable manifestation of the human-caused climate emergency,” said Gordon Murray, a former resident of Lytton whose home was destroyed this summer. “Political leaders need to confront this as an existential crisis, not a PR crisis – the time for non-binding goals and aspirational incentives is passed. We as a society need to mobilize at least on the scale of our COVID response to fight this unseen enemy, and the enemy is us.”
“Living through Covid-19, we now know that our government is totally capable of a large-scale emergency response. Like the pandemic, the climate solutions are clear: we need to act on the science, and take responsibility. We have to help transition workers in fossil fuel dependent, Indigenous and remote communities. Otherwise, we’re just going to escalate heat domes and wildfires,” said Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Executive Director at the David Suzuki Foundation.
This call comes as the BC cabinet prepares to consider how to update the CleanBC plan, ahead of the global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland in November. More organizations will be adding their names to this call in the days to come. Others are invited to do so here.
Images and cutlines are available here for media use.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Alexandra Woodsworth, Dogwood, firstname.lastname@example.org: 778-316-5558
Ziona Eyob, Stand.Earth, email@example.com, +1 604 757 7279
Seth Klein, Climate Emergency Unit, 604-836-2272
Tracey Saxby, My Sea to Sky, 604-892-7501
Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee, 778-239-1935
Anjali Appadurai, Sierra Club BC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-328-6443
Dear Premier Horgan and the Government of BC,
Re: Confront the Climate Emergency
We write on behalf of diverse environmental, Indigenous, labour, health, business, local government, academic, youth, and faith communities who collectively represent well over one million British Columbians.
We call on the BC government to recognize the urgency and alarm that people all over the province are feeling as the climate crisis directly impacts our communities and our health: deadly heat waves, wildfires, drought, floods, crop failure, fisheries collapse, and costly evacuations and infrastructure damage. These climate-related impacts are unprecedented and intensifying. Indigenous peoples stand to be disproportionately impacted by climate events despite successfully taking care of the land since time immemorial.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a ‘code red’ for humanity. The International Energy Agency has called on world governments to immediately stop investments in and approvals of new oil and gas projects. The provincial government’s CleanBC climate action plan is insufficient to limit warming to 1.5°C and will not keep British Columbians safe from the worst impacts of climate change.
We therefore urge the BC government to develop and implement a transformative climate emergency plan that recognizes the interconnected climate, ecological, and social crises; embeds equity, anti-racism, and social justice at its core; and upholds Indigenous Title and Rights, and Treaty Rights.
To implement the rapid systemic change that is required, we call on the provincial government to demonstrate the leadership necessary to confront the climate emergency, and immediately undertake the following 10 actions:
- Set binding climate pollution targets based on science and justice
Reduce BC’s greenhouse gas emissions by ~7.5% per year below 2007 levels. Set binding reduction targets of 15% by 2023; 30% by 2025; 60% by 2030, and 100% by 2040 (below 2007 levels). Review and update targets regularly as climate science evolves.
- Invest in a thriving, regenerative, zero emissions economy
Invest 2% of BC’s GDP ($6 billion dollars per year) to advance the zero emissions economy and create tens of thousands of good jobs. Spend what it takes to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new economic institutions to get the job done. Ensure that the economic component of Aboriginal Title is recognized through the sharing of benefits and revenues that result.
- Rapidly wind down all fossil fuel production and use
Immediately stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure including fracking, oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas (LNG), and fossil fuel-derived hydrogen. Rapidly phase out and decommission all existing fossil fuel production and exports.
- End fossil fuel subsidies and make polluters pay
End all fossil fuel subsidies and financial incentives by 2022. Ensure that those industries that profit from fossil fuel pollution pay their fair share of the resulting climate damage.
- Leave no one behind
Ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers, resource-dependent communities, and Indigenous and remote communities impacted by fossil fuel production. It will be critical to collaborate in true partnership with Indigenous peoples in climate action. Prepare our communities for the impacts of the climate crisis to minimize human suffering and infrastructure damage. Support those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
- Protect and restore nature
Protect 30% of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030; support and invest in Indigenous-led conservation initiatives; restore natural ecosystems to enhance ecosystem functions and services, preserve biodiversity, increase carbon sequestration, and improve human and ecosystem resilience to climate impacts. Impose an immediate moratorium on the industrial logging of all old growth forests which are critical carbon sinks.
- Invest in local, organic, regenerative agriculture and food systems
Incentivize carbon storage in soil, restore biodiversity, and ensure food sovereignty and food security across the province. Increase consumption of plant-based foods, and reduce food waste. Support Indigenous communities that wish to maintain traditional food systems and enhance their food security.
- Accelerate the transition to zero emission transportation
Invest in affordable, accessible, and convenient public transit within and between all communities. Reallocate infrastructure funds from highway expansion to transit and active transportation (cycling, rolling, and walking). Mandate zero emissions for all new light vehicles by 2027, and all medium and heavy duty vehicles by 2030.
- Accelerate the transition to zero emission buildings
Ban new natural gas connections to all new and existing buildings by the end of 2022. Create a Crown Corporation to mobilize the workforce to retrofit all existing buildings and eliminate fossil fuel heating by 2035, and to build new affordable zero emissions buildings.
- Track and report progress on these actions every year
Embed all of these actions in legislation to ensure accountability, transparency, and inclusion. Establish rolling 5-year carbon budgets that decline over time towards zero emissions by 2040 or sooner.
Tackling the climate crisis offers an unprecedented opportunity to generate new, vibrant economic and social wealth as we transform where our energy comes from and how it is used. It offers an opportunity to achieve energy security, ensure food security, develop more sustainable local economies and jobs, transform our buildings, redesign transportation, reduce pollution, improve human health and wellbeing, and enhance our quality of life. The transition from fossil fuels to a zero emissions economy has clear benefits for people and natural ecosystems, and is an opportunity to create a more prosperous, just, and equitable society.
Every person, every business, every industry, and every government has a role to play as we coordinate individual and collective actions to create a thriving, resilient, and regenerative society that respects its interdependence with healthy ecosystems and a safe climate.
British Columbia is positioned to become a visionary world leader and demonstrate that innovative and rapid change is possible as we transition to a zero emissions economy.
We urge you to seize these opportunities, and demonstrate to British Columbians that our government is indeed a true climate leader by implementing the 10 climate emergency actions set out in this letter.
We must act now.
Signatories (by sector)
British Columbia Assembly of First Nations
First Nations Summit
Union of BC Indian Chiefs
Arts / Culture
Brackendale Art Gallery
Canadian Media Producers Association (BC)
Claymates Ceramics Studio Inc.
Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice
Hummingbird Music Studio
Indian Summer Arts Society
South Cariboo Arts and Culture Society
Women in Film and Television Vancouver
1st Knowledge Bank Ltd
Barnacle Strategies Consulting
Bydand Wealth Management
Calmura Natural Walls Inc.
Climb On Equipment Ltd
Crowned Vitta LLC
Curio Research Ltd.
Drinkfill Beverages LTD
Earnest Ice Cream
Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society
Harvey McKinnon Associates
Lush Cosmetics North America
Persephone Brewing Company
Rain or Shine Ice Cream
Salish Soils Inc.
Sea To Sky Cable Cam Inc.
Squamish ReBuild Society
Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (SPUD)
Tegan McMartin Photography
TREE WORLD Plant Care Products, Inc.
Vedalia Biological Inc.
Viridian Energy Coop
Alliance4Democracy (Sunshine Coast)
BC Hydro Ratepayers Association
Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C.
Council of Canadians (Campbell River Chapter)
Council of Canadians (Comox Valley Chapter )
Council of Canadians (Nelson Chapter)
Council of Canadians (Terrace Chapter)
Council of Canadians (Victoria Chapter)
Food Stash Foundation
Friends of Tilbury Working Group
Global Peace Alliance BC Society
Kaslo Community Action Team
Language Partners BC
Out Here Ski & Board Club
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
South Park Family School
Tree of Life Nature Playschool
UNBC Outdoors Club
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Canadian Health Association for Sustainability & Equity (CHASE)
Doctors for Planetary Health (West Coast)
Inner Light Healing Arts
Mental Health and Climate Change Alliance
Public Health Association of BC
Anglican Diocese of New Westminster
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
First Unitarian Church of Victoria
Holy Cross and Saint Patricks RC Parishes
KAIROS (BC-Yukon Region)
Naramata Community Church
North Shore Unitarian Church Environmental Action Team
Salt Spring Island Unitarian Fellowship
Squamish United Church
Yasodhara Ashram Society
Douglas College Faculty Association
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators
North Island College Faculty Association
Public Service Alliance of Canada (BC Region)
Worker Solidarity Network
Canadian Senior Cohousing Society
Pacific Park Place Housing Cooperative
Squamish Seniors Society
Douglas Students’ Union
My Sea to Sky Youth Council
Quest Student Environmental Committee
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG)
Students for Mining Justice
Take a Stand: Youth for Conservation
Environment / Climate action
Against Port Expansion in the Fraser Estuary
Alberni Climate Action
Alberni Valley Transition Town Society
Armstrong/Spallumcheen Climate Action
Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards
Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment
Babies for Climate Action (New Westminster)
Babies for Climate Action (Vancouver)
BC Climate Alliance
BC Sea Wolves
Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria
Bowen Island Conservancy
British Columbia Cycling Coalition
Burnaby Climate Hub
Burnaby Residents Against Kinder MorganExpansion (BROKE)
Canadian Freshwater Alliance
Chase Environmental Action Group
Chemainus Climate Solutions
Citizen’s Climate Lobby (Okanagan Chapter)
Citizen’s Oil & Gas Council
Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Nelson-West Kootenay Chapter)
Climate Action Now!
Climate Emergency Unit
Climate Justice Victoria
Concerned Citizens Bowen
Cowichan Valley Naturalists
Creatively United for the Planet
David Suzuki Foundation
Denman Island Climate Action Network
First Things First Okanagan
For Our Kids (North Shore)
For Our Kids (Sunshine Coast)
For Our Kids (Vancouver)
Force of Nature (North Shore Community Action Team)
Georgia Strait Alliance
GOAL12 Sustainable Consumption and Production Society
Green Teams of Canada
Lawyers For Climate Justice
Living Forest Institute Society
Living Oceans Society
Mount Work Coalition
My Sea to Sky
Nanaimo Climate Action Hub
North Okanagan Naturalists’ Club
Parents 4 Climate
Planetary Resilience Council of BC
Protect Our Winters Canada
Roots on the Roof
Saanich Eco Advocates
Salish Sea Renewable Energy Cooperative
Salt Spring Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society
Shuswap Climate Action
Sierra Club BC
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
Squamish Climate Action Network (Squamish CAN)
Squamish Environment Society
Squamish Food Policy Council (SFPC)
Sunshine Coast Conservation Association
Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society
Sustainability Action Group for the Environment
Transition Salt Spring
Victoria Climate Hub
Victoria Transport Policy Institute
Watershed Watch Salmon Society
West Coast Climate Action Network (WE-CAN)
West Coast Environmental Law Association
West Kootenay EcoSociety
Yellow Point Ecological Society
Zero Waste BC