Earth Day 2021
It way my honour to be able to bring forward the following motion to the BC Legislature:
Be it resolved that in recognition of Earth Day, this House reaffirm its commitment to rise to the challenge of climate change and protect our shared environment now, and
for future generations.
Mr. Speaker, this Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day, a day to celebrate our global home, but also a call to action to protect it from its gravest threat.
The last time the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C higher than the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters higher than today.
We are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Farmers find the growing season starts earlier and crops need more irrigation. Sea level is rising, severe flooding is more often and dyking is being raised and reinforced everywhere. Wildfire season is nearly all year round and storms are stronger than they’ve ever been, year after year. I need not remind us of the orange skies and desperately poor air quality that choked millions of people from California to British Columbia, for weeks on end, from forest fires.
As a member of the first generation to bear the brunt of climate change, I’m acutely aware of how climate change will affect generations after. How declining air quality and rising food costs will affect the most vulnerable among us first. I’ve had teenagers tell me about the things they are going to miss as adults. I’ve had moms share the anxiety they have for their children’s future, and as a mother myself, I understand that fear well. We cannot fail to act decisively in the face of the coming crisis.
British Columbians treasure our awe-inspiring natural environment. From our snow-capped mountains; our resolute forests, our frigid rivers and lakes; to our wild coastline, British Columbia’s beauty takes your breath away.
We want to protect our beautiful home for generations to come. Politicians of all stripes recognize that climate change is real and is caused by human activity, and yet this past Thursday, a member of this House repeated debunked claims that more CO2, a greenhouse gas or GHG, is a good thing. It is dangerous to have a person in a leadership role repeating claims that are counter to science. At this crucial juncture in history, we must pull together to fight the existential threat of climate change.
British Columbia has begun to suffer the undeniable force of mother nature’s wrath. It is a global problem, but the effects are felt locally. In the fight against climate change, we must reduce our GHGs to what science demands of us.
That’s why I’m so proud of British Columbia’s legislated climate targets. Currently, the Province is legislated to reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent from 2007 levels by 2050. To reach this goal, Government set interim targets of a 40 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, and a 60 percent reduction by 2040, from 2007 levels. Our emissions targets are among the strongest in the world, but we won’t stop there. We will pass legislation requiring BC to reach net-zero by 2050, which is what science demands.
We mandated better accountability, transparency and more detailed targets for climate action under a new Climate Change Accountability Act, to make sure our province is on track for long-term emission reductions. A first in Canada, Government established sectoral GHG targets for 2030 in transportation, industry, oil and gas, and buildings and communities.
The Province is supporting sectoral efforts to reduce emissions by accelerating investment in CleanBC projects to reduce pollution, drive clean tech innovation and jobs, and meet expanding global demand for low-carbon products in a net-zero future. This investment means good jobs for people across the province and supporting our home-grown innovation to be the solution of choice around the world.
In 2018, our government launched the CleanBC climate action plan, which is North America's most progressive plan to reduce carbon pollution, while creating good new family-supporting jobs across British Columbia.
We just launched a new round of applications for emission reduction projects for 2021 through the CleanBC Industry Fund, with temporary changes to increase the provincial share of funding up to 90% of project costs with a cap of $25 million per project to encourage a greater number of proposals.
In addition, a new stream of the CleanBC Industry Fund will support industry projects that use advanced clean tech solutions for tough-to-solve emission problems. This new stream is called the Innovation Accelerator. Not only will these solutions reduce stubborn GHG emissions, it is an opportunity for BC companies to be first to market with their low carbon solution to meet exponentially increasing global demand.
B.C.’s strength is our people. I’m excited to see what we can achieve together.
Thank you, Honourable Speaker.