Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island

Environment-related sections of the Throne Speech; Feb 13, 2007

. . .

Over the last five years British Columbians have

marshalled their effort and energy to turn the

province into an economic powerhouse and a centre

for social innovation and improvement.

Self confidence and optimism have created a legacy

of leadership rooted in the power of individual

aspiration and the potency of common purpose.

Today we live in a world redefined by enormous

shifts in our demographic, economic, and

environmental makeup.

At the heart of the government’s agenda lies this

simple question: What can we do today to secure the

future for our children and grandchildren?

This is a time for partnership not partisanship, for

boldness not trepidation, for action not procrastination.

. . .

We are obliged to act — individually and collectively

— before the tipping point becomes the breaking point.

Your government will act:

To lead Canada in partnership with First Nations.

To tackle the challenges of global warming and

unplanned urban sprawl.

To increase affordable housing, reduce

homelessness, and help those who cannot help


To improve quality, choice, and accountability

in our two most important public services —

education and health care.

To open up Canada’s Pacific Gateway and

strengthen our economic competitiveness.

These are the elements of the Pacific Leadership

Agenda. They are all crucial to achieving the Five

Great Goals for the Golden Decade that lies ahead.

. . .

As important as all of these priorities are, none is

more important than the critical problem of global

warming and climate change.

The challenge of reversing global warming is more

difficult today than it was in 1992 at the Rio Summit

and more dire than it was in 1997 in Kyoto.

The Kyoto Treaty, which is now in place, just came

into force two years ago this Friday.

Little has been done to seriously address this problem

which is literally threatening life on Earth as we know it.

Since 1997, greenhouse gas emissions have continued

to grow here in British Columbia and across Canada.

Voluntary regimes have not worked.

In 2007, British Columbia will take concerted

provincial action to halt and reverse the growth in

greenhouse gases.

We will forge new partnerships across both provincial

and national boundaries.

The government will act now and will act deliberately.

British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions are now

estimated to be 35 per cent higher than in 1990. The

rate of atmospheric warming over the last 50 years is

faster than at any time in the past 1,000 years.

The science is clear. It leaves no room for

procrastination. Global warming is real.

We will act to stem its growth and minimize the

impacts already unleashed. The more timid our

response is, the harsher the consequences will be.

If we fail to act aggressively and shoulder our

responsibility, we know what our children can expect

— shrinking glaciers and snow packs, drying lakes

and streams, and changes in the ocean’s chemistry.

Our wildlife, plant life, and ocean life will all be hurt

in ways we cannot know and dare not imagine.

We do know this — what each of us does matters.

What everyone does matters.

Things we take for granted and that have taken

millennia to evolve could be at risk and lost in the

lifetimes of our children.

Action on climate change was promised in your

government’s election platform. It is central to the

Great Goal of leading the world in sustainable

environmental management and it has been an

important performance objective in the Province’s

last two strategic plans. The energy plan government

adopted in 2002 is the cleanest, greenest energy plan

in North America.

More air shed management plans have been

developed over the past five years than in the entire

previous decade. A 40-point action plan on climate

change was adopted in 2004 and an energy efficient

buildings plan in 2005.

Between 2000 and 2004, government’s own emissions

were reduced by 24 per cent. British Columbia now

has the second lowest per capita greenhouse gas

emissions in Canada.

However, our emissions are increasing at a rate far

faster than most of our neighbours’.

We must act to arrest and reverse that trend.

This government will firmly establish British Columbia

standards for action on climate change.

It will aim to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions

by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020.

This will place British Columbia’s greenhouse gas

emissions at 10 per cent under 1990 levels by 2020.

It is an aggressive target and will set a new standard.

To achieve that goal we will need to be focused and

relentless in its pursuit.

Interim targets will be set for 2012 and 2016.

Leaders from business, community groups, and citizens

themselves are calling for a new environmental

playing field that is fair and balanced but that

recognizes we all need to change. We all need to be

part of the solution.

The soon-to-be released new climate action and

energy plans will be complemented by an air quality

improvement initiative.

Each of those plans will aspire to meet or beat the

best practices in North America for reducing carbon

and other greenhouse gases.

Because our emissions have grown so much since

1990, our task of reducing emissions in percentage

terms will be that much more difficult.

Clearly there is a limit to what can be credibly

accomplished within any given period of time.

A Climate Action Team will be established. Working

with First Nations, other governments, industries,

environmental organizations, and the scientific

community it will determine the most credible,

aggressive, and economically viable sector targets

possible for 2012 and 2016.

The Climate Action Team will also be asked to

identify practicable options and actions for making

the government of British Columbia carbon neutral

by 2010.

Your government is confident that balanced action

will provide solutions that reduce costs, increase

productivity, and make a leading contribution to

environmental improvement.

This will be hard work but there is no place better

suited to meet this challenge than B.C. because of

our diverse and strong economy.

A longer-term emissions reduction target for 2050

will also be established for British Columbia, as it has

been for Canada, California, and Oregon.

Citizens might be rightly skeptical of any such

long-term targets. What we do today will rightly be

judged for the example it sets.

Our economy has the strength and resources to be

bold and far reaching.

Indeed, being bold and far sighted will foster

innovation, new technologies, and plant the seeds of

success. Just as the government’s energy vision of

40 years ago led to massive benefits today, so will

our decisions today provide far reaching benefits in

2040 and 2050.

Our actions will mean more jobs, new investments,

and ultimately greater prosperity for British Columbia.

Climate action must be seen and pursued as an

economic opportunity as well as an environmental


Your government’s comprehensive climate change

and energy strategies will rest on a number of

defining principles.

The new energy plan will require British Columbia

to be electricity self-sufficient by 2016.

A new personal conservation ethic will form the core

of citizen actions in the years ahead. Conservation

provides huge benefits at minimal cost.

All new and existing electricity produced in B.C. will

be required to have net zero greenhouse gas

emissions by 2016.

That target may be unprecedented in North America,

but it is achievable and realistic in B.C.

Under the new energy plan, British Columbia will

reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas

industry to 2000 levels by 2016.

That will include a requirement for zero flaring at

producing wells and production facilities.

The energy plan will require that at least 90 per cent

of our electricity comes from clean, renewable


Effective immediately, British Columbia will become

the first jurisdiction in North America, if not the

world, to require 100 per cent carbon sequestration

for any coal-fired project.

That means no greenhouse gas emissions will be

permitted for coal-fired electricity projects anywhere

in British Columbia.

Your government will look to all forms of clean,

alternative energy in meeting British Columbians’

needs in our provincial economy.

Bioenergy, geothermal energy, tidal, run-of-the-river,

solar, and wind power are all potential energy sources

in a clean, renewable, low-carbon future.

Your government will pursue British Columbia’s

A new $25-million Innovative Clean Energy Fund will

be established to encourage the commercialization of

alternative energy solutions and new solutions for

clean remote energy that can solve many challenges

we face right here in B.C.

Trees infested by the mountain pine beetle will be used

to create new clean energy. Wood chips and other wood

waste will be better utilized to produce clean power.

Beehive burners will be eliminated in British Columbia.

Legislation will be developed over the next year to

phase in new requirements for methane capture in

our landfills, the source of about nine per cent of

B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions.

That methane can and should be used for clean energy.

New technologies will be encouraged to “green the

grid” and reduce energy losses in transmission.

In the weeks ahead, the Premier will meet the

governors of Washington and California to work in

partnership on several of these and other initiatives to

reduce net greenhouse gases in the Pacific Coast Region.

British Columbia will work with California to assess

and address the impacts of climate change on our

ocean resources and establish common environmental

standards for all our Pacific ports. Your government

will seek federal co-operation to electrify our ports

potential as a net exporter of clean, renewable energy.

be established to encourage the commercialization of

and reduce container ships’ carbon emissions in all of

Canada’s ports.

A co-ordinated, integrated, market-based approach

will be critical to meeting our targets.

Your government will work with the federal

government and its Pacific partners to develop a

sensible, efficient system for registering, trading, and

purchasing carbon offsets and carbon credits.

Later this spring, your government will invite all

Pacific Coast governors and their key cabinet members

to British Columbia to forge a new Pacific Coast

Collaborative that extends from Alaska to California.

Transportation represents about 40 per cent of B.C.’s

total greenhouse gas emissions.

B.C. will work with its neighbours to create

electrified truck stops and support other anti-idling

measures for heavy vehicles.

A federal-provincial partnership will be investing

$89 million for fuelling stations and the world’s first fleet

of 20 fuel cell buses. This expansion of the number of

hydrogen fuelling stations is part of the initial phase

of the hydrogen highway. That highway will run

from Whistler to Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.

But that is just a start.

Your government will work with California and

other Pacific states to push for a hydrogen highway

that runs from Whistler to San Diego by 2010.

The Gateway Project will reduce congestion, improve

traffic flow, and reduce emissions from vehicle idling.

It will dramatically expand cycling networks and

connect communities as never before with safer

cycling paths and healthier alternatives to driving.

It will establish, for the first time in 20 years, a new

transit corridor and open the way for transit

improvements to the Fraser Valley connecting

Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, and Surrey to

Coquitlam and Vancouver.

Electronic tolls will help restrain traffic growth and

transit funding will work in concert with decisions to

increase densities, reduce sprawl, and reduce costs.

The new $40-million LocalMotion Fund will also

help local governments build walkways, cycling

paths, disability access, and other improvements

aimed at getting people out of their cars and back on

their feet.

The new Canada Line will reduce net greenhouse gas

emissions by up to 14,000 tonnes by 2021.

New measures will be implemented to encourage and

dramatically increase local transit alternatives.

Over the next year, new regional transit options will

be established for our major urban areas in the

Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, the Capital

Regional District and the Okanagan.

New tailpipe emission standards for all new vehicles

sold in B.C. will be phased in over the period 2009

to 2016.

Those standards will reduce carbon dioxide emissions

by some 30 per cent for automobiles.

British Columbia will establish a low-carbon fuel


It will reduce the carbon intensity of all passenger

vehicles by at least 10 per cent by 2020.

These new standards will be developed in recognition

of what is already mandated in California, to ensure

they are viable and achievable.

Your government has already introduced fuel tax

exemptions for ethanol and biodiesel portions of

fuels blended with gasoline and diesel.

The $2,000 sales tax exemption on new hybrid

vehicles will be extended to help make those cleaner

cars more affordable.

Moving to a hybrid car from a four-wheel-drive SUV

can cut personal transportation emissions by up to

70 per cent overnight.

Beginning this month, all new cars leased or

purchased by the provincial government will be

hybrid vehicles.

New measures will also be taken to reduce energy

consumption and emissions in the public sector.

New strategies will be launched to promote

Pacific Green universities, colleges, hospitals, schools,

prisons, ferries, and airports.

An important symbol of leadership in that regard

starts right here in the legislative precinct.

As the Legislative Buildings are upgraded to meet

modern seismic standards, new standards of energy

efficiency will be set and met.

Many other initiatives will form part of your

government’s climate action strategy.

A new unified B.C. Green Building Code will be

developed over the next year with industry,

professional, and community representatives.

Incentives will be implemented to retrofit existing

homes and buildings to make them more energy


New measures will be taken to help homeowners

undertake “energy audits” that show them where and

how savings can be achieved.

New real-time, in-home smart metering will be

launched to help homeowners measure and reduce

their energy consumption.

These measures will demand new personal

commitment, new investments, and new funding.

Your government remains committed to putting

more money back in people’s pockets, which allows

them more choice in personal spending.

It remains committed to competitive tax rates that

stimulate investment and job creation.

This government does not support new taxes on

productivity that create disincentives to capital

investment. But it does believe that our tax system

should encourage responsible actions and individual


The cost of climate change is directly related to our


Over the next year, the Province will consider the

range of possibilities aimed at encouraging personal

choices that are environmentally responsible.

It will look for new ways to encourage overall tax

savings through shifts in behaviour that reduce

carbon consumption.

For our goals to be met citizens must take primary

responsibility and make choices that reflect their values.

Conservation is key to a greener future.

Public education and information is critical in that


Your government will ensure that our children have

the benefit of that knowledge in their school


It will work to build literacy on early actions that can

be taken at home and at work to make a positive

difference to reduce our individual impact on the


A new Citizens’ Conservation Council will be

established and funded.

Your government will also invest in our forests,

nature’s carbon sinks.

Next year will mark the six-billionth tree planted in

British Columbia since reforestation efforts began in

1930. It took 51 years of planting before our first

billion trees were planted.

Today we are planting about 200 million trees a year,

or one billion trees every five years.

In the new world, those new trees will have new value

as carbon sinks and oxygen creators which help clean

our air and offset greenhouse gases. On average, each

new tree planted offsets up to one tonne of carbon

dioxide over its lifetime.

Your government will substantially increase its treeplanting

efforts, which will increase the amount of

carbon that is offset each year through reforestation

and afforestation.

The new Green Cities Project will foster innovations

that reduce our imprint on the planet through

sustainable community planning.

New measures will be developed to promote

“urban forestry” and new community gardens.

These are just part of the Green Cities Project.

The Green City Awards will recognize B.C.’s most

environmentally friendly communities.

The $21-million Towns For Tomorrow infrastructure

program will help small towns across B.C. make

improvements in their communities over the next

three years.

The new B.C. Spirit Squares program will provide

$20 million for communities to create or enhance

outdoor public meeting places.

Those new outdoor gathering spaces will be built in

celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding

of the Colony of British Columbia in 2008.

These new civic spaces will be legacies for our

children to celebrate our heritage, culture and

community achievements.

Vibrant communities are livable, lively places.

More housing choices and more pedestrian activity

are key components of healthier communities.

A new assessment class and new tax exemptions for

small-unit, supportive housing will be developed

over the next year for this legislature’s consideration.

This government wishes to add to housing stock

while reducing housing costs and reducing the

environmental footprint of sprawling communities.

Urban sprawl puts pressure on our limited land base and

increases servicing costs for property taxpayers for new

roads, bridges, and rapid transit; for sewage and water

services; and for increased energy and transmission.

Larger lots, larger homes, excessive fees, and longer

time frames have pushed home prices beyond the

economic reach of too many. Economic costs have

increased and so have environmental ones.

Working with the Union of British Columbia

Municipalities and the private sector the government

will develop new incentives to encourage smaller lot

sizes and smaller, more energy efficient homes that

use less land, less energy, less water, and are less

expensive to own.

Our communities should be places where women,

children, and seniors can safely walk the streets.

Changes to make police financing equitable for

smaller communities with fewer than 5,000 residents

will be introduced this session.

Our communities should be places where children

are cared for and are safe.

. . . .

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