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
At the heart of the governmentâ€™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 â€” individually and collectively
â€” 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 â€”
education and health care.
To open up Canadaâ€™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
We will forge new partnerships across both provincial
and national boundaries.
The government will act now and will act deliberately.
British Columbiaâ€™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
â€” shrinking glaciers and snow packs, drying lakes
and streams, and changes in the oceanâ€™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 â€” 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
governmentâ€™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 Provinceâ€™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, governmentâ€™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 neighboursâ€™.
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.â€™s greenhouse gas emissions
by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020.
This will place British Columbiaâ€™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
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
Your government is confident that balanced action
will provide solutions that reduce costs, increase
productivity, and make a leading contribution to
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 governmentâ€™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 governmentâ€™s comprehensive climate change
and energy strategies will rest on a number of
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 Columbiansâ€™
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 Columbiaâ€™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.â€™s greenhouse gas emissions.
That methane can and should be used for clean energy.
New technologies will be encouraged to â€œgreen the
gridâ€ 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 shipsâ€™ carbon emissions in all of
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.â€™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 worldâ€™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
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
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
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
governmentâ€™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 â€œenergy auditsâ€ 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 peopleâ€™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
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 Citizensâ€™ Conservation Council will be
established and funded.
Your government will also invest in our forests,
natureâ€™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
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
â€œurban forestryâ€ and new community gardens.
These are just part of the Green Cities Project.
The Green City Awards will recognize B.C.â€™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
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
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 legislatureâ€™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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