Is the BC NDP betting our future on carbon credits? Scientists say we can and must do more.

Mar 28, 2023 | 42-4, Blog, Environment, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video

Today, I asked Premier Eby to provide British Columbians with his definition of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. He chose not to answer. Instead, Minister Heyman showcased a fundamental misunderstanding of what scientists have been saying for years.

When Premier Eby took his oath he said “we cannot continue to expand fossil fuel infrastructure and meet our climate goals.” Yet, that’s exactly what he did earlier this month when he approved Cedar LNG and announced an energy framework void of details.

In the BC NDP’s new energy framework, one of the four pillars is a net-zero requirement for all new fossil fuel projects. But as stated by the United Nations: “Net zero is entirely incompatible with continued investment in fossil fuels.”

Minister Heyman suggested our province can reach net-zero through a variety of measures including the use of carbon credits, but reports have found that corporate and government-run carbon offset programs are unreliable and repeatedly overcount actual emissions reductions.

Any plan to achieve net-zero that includes LNG growth is a display of cognitive dissonance. The BC NDP appears prepared to use faulty carbon credit programs to justify oil and gas expansion, instead of funding the transition to renewable energy that we know is needed & possible.


A. Olsen:
Last fall, the Premier said: “We cannot continue to expand fossil fuel infrastructure and” meet “our climate goals.” He was placating anxious new members with platitudes after he was outpaced and out-organized in the B.C. NDP leadership event.

When he announced the Cedar LNG project a couple of weeks ago, he sounded a lot like a former Premier, Christy Clark. He said: “The choice between protecting the environment and creating good jobs is a false one.” Shortly after he announced the Cedar LNG project, the Premier announced his four-pillar energy action framework, and one of those pillars is a net-zero requirement for new fossil fuel projects.

Now to the United Nations: “Net zero is entirely incompatible with continued investment in fossil fuel.” My question is to the Premier. Can he please provide his government’s definition of net zero?

Hon. G. Heyman:
Thank you to the member for the question.

I think net zero is achieved first and foremost by a variety of measures that require independent and internationally accepted methods of verification. The first measure, of course, would be to take every step possible to reduce emissions. That includes actions like our regulation to reduce methane emissions from the natural gas industry and all industry by significant amounts by 2030 and near zero by 2035.

Following that, it would be reducing the use of emission-generating sources of energy. And further to that, it may be technologies that are being developed, like carbon sequestration and storage. It may be legitimately accepted offsets that are verified and proven to take out of the atmosphere emissions that would otherwise go into it.

Mr. Speaker:
Third Party House Leader, supplemental.

A. Olsen:
Of course, the best way to reduce emissions is not to go about diligently creating more, which is what this NDP government is committed to doing. And now it appears that they are going to be turning to the accountants and carbon offsets and carbon credits to meet their net-zero requirements. The problem with carbon credits, of course, is that they’re just a human construct, just like the soft pillow that we rest our weary heads on at the end of the day, permitting our destructive behaviour to continue tomorrow.

Carbon credits don’t exist in nature. They are make-believe. Reports have found that corporate and government-run carbon offset programs are basically biosolids. Carbon offsets are unreliable. Government and corporations are over-accounting their actual emissions in millions of tonnes. Now the B.C. NDP is ready to use these faulty programs to justify more fossil fuel expansion. It’s worse than cognitive dissonance because this government knows much better.

My question is to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Are the B.C. NDP going to bet our future on carbon offsets?

Hon. G. Heyman:
The B.C. NDP, our government, is going to bet the future of British Columbia meeting its commitments to our citizens, as well as carrying out our global responsibilities to reduce emissions, through our CleanBC plan, which the Leader of the Third Party was privy to the development of when there was a confidence and supply agreement; through our Roadmap to 2030; through a variety of very important measures that we are putting in place, that we’ve committed to put in place, whether it’s the electrification of transportation, whether it is the decarbonization of buildings and heating, whether it’s a range of supports to local governments, communities and First Nations to take action to reduce emissions; and, most importantly, from our new energy action framework — exactly what I thought the Leader of the Third Party has been asking for, for months now, which is something to give life to our sectoral targets, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

What we have committed to is a regulatory cap on emissions to achieve our sectoral target for the oil and gas sector for 2030. We will be consulting with industry, with First Nations beginning in April on the shape of that cap, and then we will be introducing the regulation to accomplish the emissions to which we’ve committed.


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