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British Columbia’s government is counting on businesses, communities and residents to help fight climate change over the coming decades, the province’s environment minister said Monday.

George Heyman has introduced legislation that includes new targets for dramatic cuts to carbon pollution, aiming for a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 12 years.

By 2040, the province wants emission levels to be slashed by 60 per cent, Heyman said.

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“We have to make steady progress,” he said. “We have to tell British Columbians what our comprehensive plan is.”

Heyman said the plan will involve reducing emissions in the transportation industry, cutting energy consumption in public, commercial and residential buildings, and exploring new climate-friendly technologies.

“I know that industry is here to work with us,” he said. “We’re working with them in a way that will keep them in business, keep them providing jobs for British Columbians and meeting our climate targets.”

Currently, B.C. has a target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Heyman said the new legislation will not change that goal.

The targets are based on emission levels measured in 2007.

The former Liberal government introduced legislated goals a decade ago to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020. In 2015, the government said it could not hit that target but was still aiming for reductions.

Heyman said his government will release its climate strategy this fall, including plans to establish emission reduction action for industries and communities.

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Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party, said in a statement that the new targets are a step towards making B.C. a leader in climate action.

“This is a huge opportunity to build a thriving 21st-century economy centred around innovation,” he said.

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