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Ashton and Cannings urge public participation in B.C. clean growth strategy

Intentions papers outlining the strategy are available until Aug. 24
The provincial government and the B.C. Green caucus are working in collaboration to move forward toward a clean growth future for the province, targeting greenhouse gas emissions in particular. (Black Press files)

Residents of B.C. have until Aug. 24 to provide their thoughts on the province’s clean grown strategy documents. Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and MP Richard Cannings are encouraging Penticton and area residents to give feedback on this matter.

As part of the Government of British Columbia’s work to build a clean growth future for the province, the provincial government is asking and inviting the public to provide feedback on numerous topics covered in intentions documents, including clean transportation, clean and efficient buildings, as well as a clean-growth program for industry this summer.

Ashton states it’s important for community members to provide their input, especially in terms of regulations being proposed. He noted that B.C. is a “resource-based province” and that clean industry growth is important but a balance must be struck.

“Everybody needs to do their share, but the last thing that’s required is an overabundance of regulations … We have to ensure that we don’t hamstring or handicap industries,” said Ashton.

Cannings, MP of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, would also like to encourage his constituents to provide their feedback on the intentions documents, despite this being a province initiative, not a federal one.

“Personally, I’d really like to see the federal government pick this up, but if they don’t I think the provincial government should do as much as they can,” said Cannings. “Clean growth is really the way forward. BC and Alberta are both moving strongly in that direction in different ways while other provinces, like Ontario, are taking a big step backwards by cancelling their carbon pricing and everything that carbon pricing was funding.”

Cannings acknowledged just how important clean growth will be in the coming years, as B.C. and Canada as a whole look to reduce their impact on the environment. Ashton echoes this point stating the current air quality conditions from area wildfires are proof as to why people and government need to look into reducing their carbon footprints.

“Both the transportation and building [industry] account for fourty per cent each of our carbon pollution. So it’s something we have to address if we’re going to tackle our carbon emissions,” said Cannings.

Cannings notes that while Alberta and B.C. have “strong carbon pricings, their economies are also the strongest in Canada.”

“A responsible climate strategy means that we are building the low-carbon economy for now and for the future - one that works for people throughout B.C. and meets our legislated carbon reduction targets,” said George Heyman, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We’re focused on our vision of a clean-growth future with a strong, stable and innovative economy. I’m excited to hear from British Columbians as we develop specific measures over the coming months.”

Reportedly, the government and the B.C. Green caucus are working in collaboration to move forward toward a clean growth future for the province. According to a news release issued by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the strategy will build on existing work, all for the overarching goal of driving sustainable economic growth with cleaner energy and fewer emissions.

In turn, the new strategy will also be integrated with the B.C. energy road map and other economic initiatives that are already underway, such as the #BCTech Strategy and the new Emerging Economy Task Force.

“Global markets are shifting as people demand cleaner solutions - and B.C. is poised to have the competitive advantage,” said Bruce Ralston, the Minister of Jobs, Trade, and Technology. “Now is the time to help our industries grow and make them even cleaner, creating more opportunities for people throughout the province.”

Currently, three intentions papers have already been released that will inform the government’s strategy to build a clean growth future for B.C. The following is a brief rundown of the three major topics the provincial government is seeking public opinion on:

  • The transportation sector in British Columbia accounts for 39 per cent of the province’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The Province is currently consulting on actions to encourage cleaner fuel consumption, the support and mandate supply of zero-emission vehicles, while also further analysis of a cleaner transportation system.
  • When it comes to infrastructure, residential, commercial and institutional building account for 11 per cent of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Government is currently looking at retrofit incentives, as well as looking at proposed actions to support innovative, high performance designs, while also seeking feedback on building energy labelling requirements, further training and improved building codes.
  • A whopping 39 per cent of B.C.’s total greenhouse gas emissions comes from industry. The Government of British Columbia is looking into a clean growth program for industry, while consulting on proposed incentives that will look to meet goal performance benchmarks, while investing into credible greenhouse gas reduction projects.

Ultimately, following public feedback this summer, a strategy will be released in the fall of this year, with subsequent papers on the related topics following suit. The province is inviting all British Columbians to contribute and provide discourse, including businesses, environmental organizations, First Nations, local government and academics.

“Climate change and the world’s response to it will fundamentally reshape the global economy. There are opportunities to be had from this transition, but they will flow to those who lead, not late adopters,” said Andrew Weaver, the leader of the B.C. Green caucus. “These intentions papers are a step towards implementing a plan that will position B.C. to be a leader in the low-carbon economy. What matters now is that we take decisive action, so that we can move quickly to deliver on our promise to meet our targets and build a thriving 21st-century economy in B.C.”