10th Key Question of 2010

Question 10:

What happened to the Climate Action Team?

David Copperfield should visit Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell to learn how to make things disappear. They are both becoming experts, particularly related to energy matters.

Harper’s Conservative’s conveniently ignore the 1972 moratorium on oil tanker traffic in northern BC waters – saying it never existed – because it would interfere with their ambition to sell tar sands oil to China and South Korea.

While in BC, Premier Campbell has made important building blocks of his now abandoned ambition to be a climate leader evaporate in front of our eyes.

Back in 2006 Premier Campbell struck a “blue-ribbon” Climate Action Team to “help the government to aggressively reduce British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions by a third.

In August 2008, the Climate Action Team released 31 GHG reduction recommendations to bridge the gap between what the government had already committed to and what was necessary to meet the legislated target. The panel made a few noteworthy recommendations that would bring BC up to the standards of world leading jurisdictions, including:

  1.  Including emissions from air travel in the new cap and trade system currently under development.
  2. Requiring all new buildings in the province have net-zero GHG emissions by 2016 for publicly-funded buildings and 2020 for all new houses and non public buildings.
  3.  Requiring  all houses and buildings sold to have a current energy efficiency rating or label by 2012;
  4. Introducing an aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy program for houses and buildings, combining incentive and regulatory approaches;
  5. Placing a hard cap on large industrial emitters or expand the carbon tax to apply to all greenhouse gas emissions, including those from industrial processes by 2012

Unfortunately, none of these recommendations have been enacted. Also, I can’t remember when the last time the Climate Action Team was even mentioned.

So discussion about policies needed to achieve real emissions reductions have disappeared while the province fast -tracks climate unfriendly projects like coal mines, pipelines, coalbed methane as well as a massive increase in shale gas drilling in the northeast.

Making things disappear is a useful skill for a politician to have. However, to be really effective you need a receptive audience willing to suspend disbelief. Unfortunately, the media and the general public are often only too willing to be distracted by the spectacle.

Like all good prestidigitators, Mr. Harper and Mr. Campbell are experts at misdirection, where the magician choreographs his actions so that all spectators are likely to look where he wants them to. The disappearance of the Climate Action Team recommendations along with his sleight of hand around ramping up oil and gas while promising real carbon reductions confirms that Mr. Campbell is a master magician.

Previous Questions for 2010

  1. Will there be a federal election in 2010?

  2. Which BC party will get a new leader after the Olympics?

  3. Will the huge expansion of coal mining in BC come under scrutiny in 2010?

  4. Will leaders in Capital Region be able to stop reckless development on the Wild Coast and the Saanich Peninsula?

  5. Will British Columbians take to the streets in 2010 to push for action on global warming?

  6. Will a new super tanker port be built in Kitimat to ship tar sands oil to China?

  7. Will campaign finance reform happen in 2010?

  8. Will BC prioritize green jobs and energy conservation or simply more subsidies to fossil fuel companies?

  9. Will budget shortfalls trump action on global warming?


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