Mark Carney, the Former Governor of the Bank of Canada and current UN Special Envoy on Climate Change yesterday spoke about how governments and industries can reach their targets: “It’s putting money behind those who are solving the problem — or are part of the solution — and it’s taking money away from those who aren’t moving fast enough.”
Today in Question Period, I asked the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy if he sees a difference between supporting a transition for existing industries and using those same policies to expand the oil and gas industry?
We can’t have it both ways. If we want a low carbon economy, we must be laser focused on how we get there. We cannot have an expanding fossil fuel industry and believe we will build an innovative, low carbon economy that is in line with our GHG targets.
S. Furstenau: Yesterday, my colleague highlighted some of the inconsistencies in the way this government talks about protecting industry competitiveness and being a climate leader. There are numerous sectors across our economy that rightfully deserve government support in making a transition to a low-carbon economy.
But let’s be clear. Facilitating the competitiveness of the fossil fuel industry with subsidies should not be the government’s job in 2020. We must aspire to be far more than the cleanest polluter.
My question is for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Does the minister not see a difference between supporting a transition for existing industries and having those same policies used to expand the oil and gas industry?
Hon. G. Heyman: The member knows that we have worked together on the CleanBC climate plan. We have worked together on the Climate Change Accountability Act. I understand. It’s been very clear throughout all of the debates that the members of the Third Party and the member for Oak Bay disagree with this government’s approach to the liquefied natural gas industry. That is a point of disagreement. That does not mean that we don’t have a strong climate plan — in fact, the strongest climate plan in North America. I believe we should all be proud of that.
To the member’s question, we made a conscious decision, which we explained clearly to the members of the Third Party, that we were not going to have one approach for existing industry and a different approach for new industry with respect to how we dealt with the CleanBC industrial incentive. If particular companies and projects approach or are at world-leading carbon intensity standards, we want to encourage that. We encourage that by making them eligible for the program. We encourage that by giving them rebates of the carbon tax above $30, up to and including 100 percent of that. We encourage that by welcoming applications to the CleanBC technology fund.
Mr. Speaker: The House Leader Third Party on a supplemental.
S. Furstenau: I would suggest that having a strong climate plan that is being weakened by using policies to subsidize what is increasingly being recognized as a dirty fuel is not something we should be aspiring to in British Columbia. We cannot have it both ways. If we want a low-carbon economy, we have to be laser focused on how we get there. We cannot have an expanding fossil fuel industry propped up by taxpayer subsidies and believe that, at the same time, we will build an innovative, low-carbon economy that is in line with our greenhouse gas targets.
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, recently spoke about how governments and industries can reach their goals. “It’s putting money behind those who are solving the problem or are part of the solution, and it’s taking money away from those who aren’t moving fast enough.”
Of course British Columbia should support innovation and transition within its existing industries. This is very different than helping the fossil fuel industry expand in this province with taxpayer-funded subsidies.
My question is to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Why is this government conflating the support of innovation and transition with a subsidization of continued growth of the fossil fuel sector?
Hon. G. Heyman: First of all, there is and has been for many years an existing gas industry in British Columbia, and we are working with that industry to make it cleaner and to lower greenhouse gas emissions, including putting in very strong methane reduction requirements through regulation.
We are diversifying B.C.’s economy by encouraging innovation through the emerging economy task force, the innovation commissioner, through the technology fund, through working with the clean tech sector. We will continue to do that.
We are on a road with CleanBC. We are not on a road that hits a cliff. We are on a road that has to be well thought out, that has to support a smooth transition, that has to encourage technology, innovation, marketing of low-carbon B.C. products and, most importantly, it has to be a road that has the support of British Columbians. We achieve that by ensuring that British Columbians are working.