Paris agreement an important milestone

This year Earth Day will be marked with the signing of the historic Paris climate change agreement in New York City on April 22, 2016.

Op-ed By Mary Polak, Minister of Environment

This year Earth Day will be marked with the signing of the historic Paris climate change agreement in New York City on April 22, 2016.

This is an important milestone in the global effort to combat climate change, because it signals an intention by jurisdictions all over the world to follow B.C.’s example and take tangible steps to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions while growing the economy.

B.C. continues to be a world climate leader, a distinction we first received with the introduction of our revolutionary Climate Action Plan in 2008 highlighted by our revenue neutral carbon tax. Eight years later and our carbon tax remains among the highest and most comprehensive in North America, and even the world.

Our revenue neutral carbon tax is successful because we tax the things we don’t want, including pollution, and then we remove taxes from the things that we do want, namely money in people’s pockets, a growing economy, wealth creation and jobs.

But, there’s more to climate action than just carbon pricing. The carbon tax alone isn’t enough to achieve our climate goals. Other areas such as upstream emissions mitigation, new transit options and energy-efficient building improvements are just a few examples of where we need to take further action.

B.C.’s climate plan has worked because we have been able to continue to grow our economy and create jobs while reducing harmful GHG emissions.

But we are at a point where more needs to be done. With 98 per cent of our energy supply already coming from clean sources, our GHG emissions per capita is among the lowest in Canada. We don’t have the ability to reduce emissions by simply closing down a high-polluting, coal-fired plant.

We welcome our own particular challenge of reducing emissions even further while continuing our national leadership in job creation and economic growth. That’s why we are moving our climate agenda forward through the development of the Climate Leadership Plan.

This plan is being assembled with the advice of the Climate Leadership Team, and through public and stakeholder consultation.

The second public engagement phase has now concluded. Since the public consultation began last summer, we have received over 15,000 comments through surveys, online forms, emails and written submissions. All of this feedback will be considered as we develop B.C.’s Climate Leadership Plan.

Climate change is perhaps the defining challenge of this generation because it impacts every family, every business and every community in progressive action to ensure we remain a global climate action leader.

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect

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