BC Election 2017: Climate Policy Let Down

Bill Henderson

An aerial view of the Larsen C ice rift. John Sonntag/NASA

Climate activist Bill Henderson has evaluated the three major party platforms on climate in terms of effectiveness and adequacy with surprising results.

All parties are in agreement in trying to meet the same emission reduction targets: 80% of 2007 levels by 2050, with NDP and Greens aiming for 40% by 2030 – Libs 30% by 2030?

This is positive in that parties in other jurisdictions – GOP in US, for obvious example – have not progressed this far.

But these targets are dated and are not nearly ambitious enough to even stay under 2C (let alone as far below 2c as possible) given the state of the art climate and carbon budget science. (80-100% by 2030 would be the target now needed to stay under 2C.)

These targets remain aspirational for the three parties – each party’s listed policies won’t come close to achieving the 2030 targets (with the 2050 targets therefore in jeopardy).

Each party supports a carbon tax roughly in line with Pan-Canadian framework – $50 by 2022 (whereas carbon pricing needed is now in the $200-500 range).

Individual party specifics:


The Libs main focus is the Pan-Canadian Framework (which most knowledgeable critics believe will fail to meet even old Harper-era 30% of 2007 by 2030 target). Their other listed policies are intended to just mitigate the effects of climate policy upon voters and business.

The Libs climate platform is weak and peripheral – it doesn’t mention many existing regulatory initiatives.


The New Democrats would introduce policies in transportation, industry and housing to meet 2030 targets but these policies remain undefined.

They would invest (carbon tax esp) in clean energy and transportation.

They would re-establish (and supposedly listen to) Climate Leadership panel.

While their platform is better than the Libs with more and better planning promised and wanting to take climate change seriously, climate remains only one of many supposedly equal issues and their mitigation remains restricted to only within the present governmental agenda or mandate.


The GPBC have a much more detailed platform but to achieve the same inadequate targets.

They would use presently possible governmental information and regulation to help citizens and business transition out of fossil fuels.

The Greens have an extensive list of monitoring energy and educating the public that could lead to smaller individual fossil footprints and would tweak present regulation of business to lower industry and other business fossil fuel use.

They give more attention  to climate than either the Libs or NDP with many useful possible programs advocated, but the resulting confection is still Climate Lite, – incremental improvement within the continuing business as usual rush to catastrophe.

Overall comment on all three party platforms:

The three party platforms are all stuck at stage two: recognition of needed climate mitigation but with only weak, constrained action advocated.

Plus each party would still OK fossil fuel production (or pipelines to aid in increased production) in some instances – with the Libs most open to extraction – while no party even mentions regulation to wind down existing production except for thermal coal.

If you are serious about climate and looking for leadership in this election: None of the above.


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