The British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is promising better accountability, transparency and more detailed targets for climate action under a new Climate Change Accountability Act announced on October 30, 2019.

“We’re committed to meeting our climate targets and making sure our CleanBC plan gets us to where we need to go – that means being honest and transparent about our progress to make sure people can determine we’re on the right track,” said B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman. “People across this province, and especially young people, are demanding we take the climate crisis seriously and that we make sure everyone works together to secure a stronger, cleaner future. That’s why we will work with communities, people and industry to put in place targets for each sector. What’s more, we’re mandating that the steps we’re taking are reported to the public every year, by law.”

To ensure the province is on track for long-term legislated emissions reductions, the government will be required to set an interim emissions target on the path to the legislated 2030 target – which is 40 per cent in greenhouse gas reductions below 2007 levels. Separate 2030 targets by sector will also be established following engagement with stakeholders, Indigenous peoples and communities throughout the province.

The recently tabled legislation includes new reporting requirements on actions to reduce carbon pollution, their cost and how they will achieve government’s legislated emission-reduction targets. The annual reports will outline the latest emissions data and projections, as well as actions planned for future years and the effect they are expected to have.

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Additional legislative changes will establish an independent advisory committee that will be modeled on the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council, now that the council has fulfilled its mandate.

The legislative changes also give government the ability to set more detailed targets and other environmental standards for publicly owned buildings and vehicle fleets to help reduce emissions, improve environmental performance and save money in the long run.

“We welcome B.C.’s climate accountability law as one of the strongest in North America. These new measures to strengthen transparency and responsibility from every sector of our society – from the largest industrial polluters, to government, to citizens – will help make sure everyone is part of the solution to the climate crisis. For the health of our communities and the well-being of our children and grandchildren, we need more action – and more accountability – and we need it now,” says Ian Bruce, director of science and policy for the David Suzuki Foundation.

Upon passage of the amendments, interim emissions targets will be established by ministerial order by no later than Dec. 31, 2020. Sectoral targets will be established no later than March 31, 2021.

To follow progress of amendments to the Climate Change Accountability Act, click here

Photo: Stanley Park seawall in B.C.
By Masaru Suzuki.

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