British Columbia's Quest for Carbon Neutrality

The Tyee/via

Back in 2007, British Columbia's Premier, Gordon Campbell, shocked North America when his government tabled 10 pieces of legislation that would form the backbone of a Climate Action Plan (CAP) for the province. The pull-out statistic framed a legally binding requirement to reduce B.C.'s current greenhouse gas emissions by one-third by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.

Our friends at the Tyee Solutions Society have launched a series to take a look at the CAP four years after its implementation and one year after it's champion announced his resignation as the province's Premier, largely due to his handling of the implementation of an unpopular, but unrelated, tax.

Tom Barrett and Christopher Pollon suggest that the CAP is at a crossroads. Tyee editor David Beers explains the scope in his introduction to the series:

Four years ago, B.C. dazzled the world with a daring new plan to drive down carbon emissions. Well, the world has moved on since 2007 -- through a global financial crisis into a new era of pinched economies and a deepening divide between the economic have-it-alls and the have-lesses (and less and less with each passing year), as expressed in the Occupy movement. Meanwhile, the political leader who gave B.C. its carbon strategy has also moved on. His Liberal successor, Premier Christy Clark, and her equally untested rival, NDP Opposition Leader Adrian Dix, must face British Columbia voters in a general election in May 2013. For both, the millions of dollars in government revenue, public spending, and future tax hikes and disbursements at stake in B.C.'s climate strategy present irresistible, or perhaps inescapable, targets to define their opposing campaigns.

Before the partisan framing sets in, the Tyee Solutions Society thought it might be useful to stand back and consider just what the Climate Action Plan has and hasn't accomplished so far -- what's been learned from its successes and lapses, what informed observers say deserves rethinking and what the rival suitors for our support in the coming election have revealed about which elements of the pioneering plan to zero out B.C.'s carbon footprint they may scrap or enhance.

In this first instalment of a series, Christopher Pollon recaps how we got here. Future instalments will measure partisan support for the Carbon Action Plan; look in on how our unique-in-North-America carbon tax is working out; pull back the curtain on the mysterious world of carbon "offsets"; and more.

BC's successes and failures will inform future direction for all levels of government tackling climate issues around the world. Head on over to The Tyee to dig in to the ongoing series.

Follow me on Twitter @jeffwnield

Tags: Canada | Carbon Emissions | Carbon Neutral | Carbon Offsets | Carbon Taxes