Tax breaks at centre of B.C.'s long-term climate plan
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 6:29 PM - B.C. has unveiled its long-awaited clean climate plan, outlining the province's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the province by offering tax breaks for home retrofitting and zero-emission vehicles.
The plan, Clean B.C., also redirects revenue from the carbon tax into incentives for the province's biggest industries to move to cleaner operations.
"We want to make shifts: shifts in our home, shifts in our vehicles and shifts in our industry away from fossil fuels and into green energy," Premier John Horgan told reporters.
(WINTER IS HERE: How will El Niño shape Canada's upcoming winter? Find out with The Weather Network’s 2019 Winter Forecast | FORECAST & MAPS HERE)
Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver revealed the framework in Vancouver on Wednesday, joined by Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall.
The climate plan is part of the province's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050.
The reductions outlined in Wednesday's plan, however, only fulfil 75 per cent of that 2030 target. The province said the remaining 25 per cent will be worked out over the next 18 to 24 months.
Premier John Horgan, right, announced the province's new targets for zero-emission vehicles with Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver at his side. (Mike McArthur/CBC)
MAJOR TARGETS: CLEANER BUILDINGS, CARS
Cleaner cars and cleaner buildings — as well as incentives for people to afford the shift — were highlights of the plan.
It said every building built in B.C. will need to be "net-zero energy ready" by 2032, meaning they're efficient enough so their total energy needs could be met with renewable energy sources like solar panels.
B.C. is also allocating $400 million to support retrofits and upgrades to existing homes and office buildings, as previously announced, including incentives for homeowners to pay for renovations to things like windows and heat pumps.
A Clean Communities fund will also be available to remote communities, so residents can apply for grants to upgrade existing housing in their neighbourhoods.
The province has a target of improving 1.5 per cent of every building in B.C. by 2030 — or 16,000 households a year.
As for transportation, the plan says every car sold in B.C. will need to be zero-emission by 2040 — as announced by Horgan last month. The plan, again, offered incentives for people to afford the switch.
A portion of B.C.'s carbon tax, paid by industry, will be saved and redirected into incentives for cleaner operations for operations like mining aluminum and oil and gas.
Clean electricity will also be provided to "planned natural gas production in the Peace region."
In October, LNG Canada announced its $40-billion LNG project in Kitimat was going ahead.
To help ensure the project moved forward, Horgan's government offered also offered an exemption on provincial sales tax related to construction costs.
According to information provided by the province, LNG Canada's plant would be the least greenhouse gas-intensive large LNG facility in the world.
Weaver slammed the project after its approval, saying it would clash with the province's climate goals.
WATCH BELOW: SAVING NATURAL GAS IS IMPORTANT IN B.C. THIS WINTER
CLEAN BUSINESS WELCOME
The Green leader, who worked as a climate scientist before transitioning to politics, struck a different tone on Wednesday.
"This isn't a plan to make people spend a bunch of taxes and hurt people's take-home pay," he said. "It is about sending a message to the broad market in B.C. and internationally that B.C. is going to rise to the challenge: 'We welcome business in B.C., but that business will be clean business.'"
Weaver also addressed the 25 per cent gap in the plan.
"The answer is, yes, we're only 75 per cent of the way there, but look what we've accomplished in doing that," he said.
Horgan's minority NDP government is supported in the legislature by the B.C. Green Party.
Pembina Institute spokeswoman Karen Tam Wu has said B.C. currently emits about 63 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and its goal is to get that number down to about 13 megatonnes by 2050.
WATCH BELOW: CATHERINE MCKENNA: 'THAT IS DISGUSTING AND TERRIBLE', THE ONE STAT THAT SPARKED THIS QUOTE
This article was written for the CBC by Rhianna Schmunk.