Core of Climate Plan Intact but Environmental Groups Say Budget Lacks Green Stimulus
Victoria, BC – Seven leading environmental groups praised the BC government today for reaffirming its commitment to tackle climate change. Yet the groups say BC’s promised transition to a “low carbon economy” will be stalled by the BC government’s lack of leadership in failing to introduce a true green stimulus package, and the jump in subsidies to carbon-emitting sectors such as oil and gas industries.
“This budget sustains the core of B.C.’s climate change action plan by maintaining the carbon tax,” said Ian Bruce, Climate Change Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation. “But it falls short by failing to provide adequate funds for public transit, and sends the wrong signal by continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry heavily.”
Subsidies to the oil and gas sector are to soar by 57 percent—to a whopping $1.5 billion over the next three fiscal years. “The government had the opportunity to lead us into the economy of the future but give-aways to heavy polluters and carbon emitters condemn us to the mistakes of the past," said Charles Campbell, spokesperson for the Dogwood Initiative.
A 15 per cent cut to environmental stewardship—down to $34 million from $41 million--was also singled out by the seven groups as alarming.
“Aside from staying the course on climate change, the government has given the environment short shrift in this budget,” said Susan Howatt, Campaigns Director for Sierra Club BC. “Substantial cuts to environmental stewardship are of great concern for a province that still has no endangered species law--and 1,600 endangered species.”
Another gap in the budget is that new infrastructure projects will not require a transparent analysis of global warming emissions and life-cycle costs that clearly demonstrate how projects--like proposed highway expansions--will help or hinder achievement of BC’s legally-binding climate change goals.
“Funding for closed containment fish farming was also notably lacking, missing an opportunity for long-term green, rural economic development,” said Ruby Berry, of the Georgia Strait Alliance.
Ian Bruce, David Suzuki Foundation: (604) 306-5095
Charles Campbell, Dogwood Initiative: (250) 858-9990
Susan Howatt, Sierra Club BC: (250) 888-6267
Tom Hackney, BC Sustainable Energy Association: (250) 213-3335, (250) 744-2720
Ruby Berry, Georgia Strait Alliance: (250) 218-6818
Andrew Gage, West Coast Environmental Law: (250) 412-9784
Karen Wristen, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation: (604): 788-5634