THE CANADIAN PRESS/Globe & Mail — The B.C. business community signed onto the NDP government’s plan this week. The endorsement reflects a full year of backroom discussions that resulted in a plan that is expected to offer a painless transition for consumers.
In a report in the Globe & Mail, Greg D’Avignon, president and chief executive of the Business Council of B.C., said his organization approached Premier John Horgan, asking to work together to develop a climate strategy that would not drive industry out of the province.
“If you use too much stick, you might reach your [greenhouse gas] reductions because the capital will have fled. That’s not a threat, it’s a reality,” he said in an interview Thursday, pointing to the announced closure of General Motors’ auto plant in Oshawa, Ont., as an example of how industry can be mobile when it comes to investments. That process was starting in B.C., he said, with investment leaking out because of high taxes that put industry at a competitive disadvantage.
The CleanBC plan, announced on Wednesday, aims to use one of the province’s natural advantages – an abundant source of clean hydroelectric power – to brand B.C.’s mining, energy and forestry products as low-carbon solutions to the greenhouse gas (GHGs) challenges that each of its trading partners is grappling with.
It means replacing fossil fuels with electricity in home heating, in transportation, and in industry, to meet the B.C. targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030.
To get industry onside, the plan relies on rewarding changes, rather than forcing them. “We think it will be a lot of carrot,” Mr. D’Avignon said.
The government says the price tag for the transition, and the details of the tax breaks and rebates will be revealed in its February budget. The incentives to large industry include a reduction in carbon-tax costs for operations that meet world-leading emissions benchmarks, as well as a clean industry fund that invests some industrial carbon tax revenue directly into emission reduction projects.
The province is also promising to provide clean electricity to new natural gas production and other large operations by building additional transmission lines, but it has not explained how the new infrastructure will be funded. In all, industry is expected to deliver the largest share of reductions in GHGs, a total of 8.4 million tonnes annually by 2030.
Susan Yurkovich, president of the Council of Forest Industries, said her sector is ready to do its part, but it has to be done in a way that allows industry to remain competitive in international markets.