British Columbia's new climate plan is not expected to include changes to carbon pricing or greenhouse gas reduction targets as recommended by the province's own expert committee – a fact that environmental groups say will undermine the plan's credibility.
The plan, to be released on Friday, has been held up as an opportunity for the province to regain its title as a climate leader, a position bolstered under former premier Gordon Campbell. It will address most of the 32 recommendations put forth by the Climate Leadership Team (CLT) struck last year; however, it will leave unanswered the call for new pricing and targets needed to reverse rising emissions, according to a source.
Although British Columbia was an early adopter of carbon pricing, its $30-a-tonne rate has been frozen since 2012, while emissions have continued to climb.
Emissions in the province are currently projected to increase 39 per cent above 2014 levels by 2030, according to the Pembina Institute.
The province will not meet its 2020 target to reduce emissions by 33 per cent below 2007 levels.
The CLT had recommended a new legislated 2030 target of 40-per-cent emission reduction below 2007 levels, which would then put the province on a "credible pathway" to its 2050 target of 80 per cent below 2007 levels. The source says this recommendation will not be enacted.
As much as 50 per cent of emission reduction will come from forest management, including the planting of trees, the environmental source said.
Merran Smith, the executive director of Clean Energy Canada, who is also on the CLT, said an effective climate action plan must cut carbon pollution and set British Columbia up to compete in a clean economy.
"To be effective, the plan needs to have policies and it needs to have dollars attached. Without that, it's just a vague list of promises," she said.
Further: "As long as B.C.'s carbon pollution is rising instead of falling, then the province isn't showing leadership," she said.
Josha MacNab, B.C. director for the Pembina Institute, said the recommendations from the CLT – which is made up of environmental, academic, business and First Nations groups – provide a clear pathway on how British Columbia can meet its 2050 emissions-reduction target while maintaining a strong economy. To ignore the committee's recommendation to increase and expand the carbon tax would be harmful to both of these objectives, she said.
"One of the most important pieces to a credible climate plan has to be an increase to the carbon price in B.C.," she said. "If this plan doesn't see an increase in that carbon price, we can't credibly say that this plan will get us on track."
British Columbia's plan is expected to include a promise to cut methane emissions along the lines of what the federal and Alberta governments have pledged. The Ministry of Environment would not confirm any details.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to reduce methane emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025 as part of a bilateral approach to curb climate change, while Alberta announced plans to reduce methane emissions from industry by 45 per cent from 2012 in the same time frame.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said that her province would match the Alberta effort.
The plan is also expected to include details of the electrification of upstream natural gas production. The CLT had said B.C.'s strategy "should enable BC Hydro to commit to supplying new industrial projects with clean electricity by project startup, if necessary through the use of temporary natural gas generation until transmission infrastructure is available."
With a report form Shawn McCarthy