Should BC continue to give fossil fuel companies subsidies and tax cuts?

Election 2020: Should BC keep giving fossil fuel companies subsidies and tax cuts?

In the absence of major action to reduce emissions, global temperature is on track to rise by an average of 6 °C (10.8 °F), according to the latest estimates. Some scientists argue a “global disaster” is already unfolding at the poles of the planet; the Arctic, for example, may be ice-free at the end of the summer melt season within just a few years. Yet other experts are concerned about Earth passing one or more “tipping points” – abrupt, perhaps irreversible changes that tip our climate into a new state. But it may not be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change.” – NASA 

Many scientists believe we have seven years to avert the worst ravages of the impending Climate Crisis. Even if they are wrong, it is clear that British Columbia must transition to cleaner energy sources. Should the BC government continue to pay out close to $1 billion a year in fossil fuel subsidies and tax cuts?

Photo credit: Pipelines by Ted Potters via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

BC Liberals response

The BC Liberals directed me to their website, where it says, “A BC Liberal government led by Andrew Wilkinson will support building the Trans Mountain pipeline to provide you with a secure, affordable, and reliable fuel supply.”

LNG is about 90% methane, which Environment and Climate Change Canada admits “traps more than 70 times more heat over a 20-year period than the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.” 

However the BC Liberals claim that, “Our natural resources like LNG are part of the solution – not the problem.”

NDP position on LNG

The NDP also propose to develop LNG, but promise to“reduce methane emissions from upstream oil and gas operations by 45%.” They also propose to use some carbon tax revenues for “incentives for cleaner operations and projects that will reduce emissions.”

An LNG tanker courtesy Ron Gilbert via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

What the (Clark) Liberals didn’t do

NDP candidate Michele Babchuk contrasted other aspects of their climate policy with that of the BC Liberals.

“There is no argument that the climate crisis is the global challenge of our time. We see more and more fires and natural disasters and we owe it to future generations to do our part,” she began.

“The BC Liberals convened a Climate Leadership panel, then ignored nearly all of their recommendations. They abandoned action on climate pollution and gave up meeting climate targets. They had no plan to increase carbon pricing rebates for people as a federally mandated carbon pricing increase.” 

“We can’t let the BC Liberals set us back again.”

CleanBC

 “Let me tell you, John Horgan’s CleanBC strategy is the most ambitious climate plan on the continent. Developed with Dr Andrew Weaver and passed as the Climate Accountability Act, to legally require government on emissions targets:

  • it increases carbon pricing rebates for low and middle income families; 
  • provides rebates for electric vehicles and home efficiency upgrades; 
  • has  $105 million for industry, this year, to move to cleaner operations.
  • and $106 million over three years to help schools, hospitals and universities reduce energy consumption.

“Recently, John Horgan strengthened our Climate Action plan by announcing net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which means we are taking out of the atmosphere the carbon that has already been there. I know this is important to North Islanders.” 

Michele Babchuk
Michele Babchuk, NDP candidate for North Island – submitted photo

About fossil fuel subsidies and tax cuts? 

Babchuk concluded, “We have been very clear that LNG development must fit into the climate plan. Any projects must fit into our climate action targets. We won’t compromise those targets. We have so much more to do, we have to keep up the fight.” 

Green candidate Alexandra Morton was the only one who actually answered the question about subsidies and tax cuts. 

“The provincial government has to end subsidies for [industries] like LNG and the other fossil fuels because it is irresponsible to encourage industries [that are] not only in a failing market … we know they are inflicting harm on our children,” she began.

Alexandra Morton says BC should stop giving fossil fuel companies subsidies and tax cuts
Biologist Alexandra Morton – submitted photo

Proposed Ministry of Climate Action

“ … I have lived offgrid for 34 years and people have no idea of how much power is beating down on our roofs, in the form of the sun – even on cloudy days. Then there is wind and other low carbon sources.”

“The province of British Columbia should form a new ministry, the Ministry of Climate Action, and take on the [task] of conducting an inventory. How many solar rays, wind farms, electric vehicles, heat pumps do we need to simply end our reliance on fossil fuels.”  

Morton continued, “Stop trying to appease those who are blocking actions. Stop trying to not offend the companies that are perpetrating this damage to our planet.”

“Just form a ministry and say, ‘here’s what we need.’ Let companies come to the government and say, ‘okay, here’s our plan. Here is our proposal on how we would deal with this.’ That way it is not only a leap into the green economy, it is also a post COVID stimulus effort.”

“The government was to invest in getting these projects started.”

“If we do not do this, we are giving our children a scorched earth.That’s all there is to it. So, I think it is imperative that the government take very strong action and not worry about those that are minding the dinosaurs, we have to stop that.” 

Top photo credit: Arctic Icebergs courtesy Polar Cruises via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative

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