B.C. throne speech opens door for climate action, but loose on details
February 8, 2022
Provincial plan to confront the climate emergency lacking in transformative measures
Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — The British Columbia government underscored the province’s climate commitments today, but fell short on mapping out how it intends to deliver on these promises.
The provincial throne speech, delivered in Victoria today by Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin, emphasized that in 2022, the B.C. government plans to “act with greater urgency” on climate change, citing the devastating wildfires and heat dome that ravaged the province over the summer of 2021. Some of the promises outlined by the government include a comprehensive review of the province’s oil and gas royalty system, which will seek to eliminate outdated and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. The province also renewed its call to work towards logging deferrals of old growth forests, but fell short of actually committing to an urgent timeline for implementing them, leaving the most at-risk old growth open to logging.
After years of criticism by environmental groups for the alarming growth in fossil fuel subsidies given out by the province, this spring, the B.C. NDP government will make a major decision on the largest single provincial fossil fuel subsidy as part of its Natural Gas Royalty Review. In 2021, the B.C. NDP gave away more than twice the amount of fossil fuel subsidies – as much as $1.3 billion to be precise – given out in the final year of Christy Clark’s government, according to findings from a Stand.earth report.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to cancel inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” said Sven Biggs, Stand.earth’s Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director. “However, in a province that is already battered by floods, heat domes, and forest fires, which are all undeniably made worse by climate change, there is no such thing as an efficient fossil fuel subsidy, which is why B.C. needs to phase out all subsidies.”
The government emphasized that it would implement mechanisms to protect people in B.C. from the volatile impacts of climate change that devastated the province leading into this year. But if the B.C. NDP is truly committed to living up to this promise, investing in climate-protective infrastructure – including forest protection – must be a priority, especially in the new land management ministry announced today.
“Today’s throne speech re-used the same talking points on forests we’ve heard for months, all while the most at-risk old growth forests remain open to logging. This government needs to start acting with the seriousness demanded by the crises we’re facing, and reject the longstanding practice of ‘talk and log,’ ” said Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner for Stand.earth. “Forests are critical infrastructure that fortify our communities against the impacts of climate change, including catastrophic floods and landslides. Logging deferrals are an urgent tool to prevent the permanent loss of old growth forests, while governments pursue the long-term work needed to overhaul how forests are managed. If today is any indication, the B.C. NDP government seems to have abandoned the urgency of acting on its promises for old growth.”
If the B.C. government is truly committed to fulfilling the climate agenda it outlined today, the province must cancel royalty credits, phase out all fossil fuel subsidies, and immediately implement logging deferrals across all priority areas identified by the old growth technical advisory panel.
Ziona Eyob, Media Director – Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 604 757 7279 (Pacific Time)