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Dauncey: ‘Timid’ B.C. Intention Papers Do Little to Boost Climate Action

With its recently-published series of “intention papers” on clean growth, British Columbia’s government is showing too much timidity and not enough initiative to counter the fear and cynicism that have begun to accumulate in response to the climate crisis, renewable energy veteran Guy Dauncey writes, in a blog post subsequent republished by The Tyee.

The intention papers “contain little that is new,” Dauncey charges, “and by downplaying the climate crisis almost to a state of mental non-existence, they have written the urgency out of the picture.” That omission is “crazy”, he adds, given the scope of the climate impacts that have been visible to all this summer.

Dauncey praises the Horgan government’s “determined stand so far” against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but declares its plans for liquefied natural gas (LNG) development particularly grievous. B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 stood at 63.3 million tonnes (Mt) a year and were rising, and its climate plan sets a target of 38 Mt by 2030—but the mammoth LNG Canada project at Kitimat and the Woodfibre facility near Squamish will boost emissions by eight to 12 Mt per year.

Rather than trying to square that circle, Dauncey calls for a legally-mandated annual carbon budget, supported by renewable energy targets of 50% for 2030 and 100% by 2040. “We don’t need to know in detail how to get there,” he states.  “Take technology, add innovation and resources, add determination, stir until ready.”

Dauncey makes a similar case for a 95% reduction in the province’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. “As progress gathers steam, as people gain confidence that it’s possible and awareness about the climate reality sinks in, we could advance the goal to 2035,” he predicts.

Noting that transportation, buildings, and industry together account for 89% of the province’s emissions, Dauncey urges the province to mandate that “all new cars be EVs by 2025…not by 2040 as the intention paper proposes,” and to invest heavily in bicycle infrastructure and transit. He says the government documents signal virtually zero intent to address either.

Turning to buildings, he recommends that “all new buildings be zero-carbon by 2024,” noting that the relevant intentions paper “simply restates the current goal that most new construction will need to be ‘net zero energy-ready’ by 2032, which is code (one hopes) for zero carbon.” The problem here, he contends, is that “the building industry has been whining about change, and the B.C. government and some ENGOs have bought into it.”

Turning to industrial emissions, Dauncey calls for a climate test for all new projects and a zero-carbon target by 2040. He does credit the province’s industry intention paper for “wisely” recommending that a portion of carbon tax revenue “be used in a Clean Industry Fund to help industry reduce its emissions, in the form of incentives.”

He also points to province-wide public involvement as an essential piece of the puzzle. Nowhere, he writes, do the intention papers contain “any mention of public education and engagement, the absence of which is the primary reason why climate indifference and denial have been able to spread, casting dust and delay into the debate.” What’s needed above all, he stresses, is emphasis on positive solutions.