BC Greens chalk up wins for near term and next generations

2018 was a productive year for the BC Green Party caucus. We saw many initiatives from our 2017 election platform, such as lobbying reform, ride-hailing-enabling legislation and investments in child care and early childhood education, come to fruition.

In July, we launched a signature BC Green idea, the Emerging Economy Task Force (EETF). The task force, composed of British Columbians from industry, business and academia, is analyzing how global conditions and technological advancements will shape B.C.’s economy.

We came up with the EETF because government has a responsibility not only to manage the issues of the present day, but also to plan for the future. Between climate change, shifting balances of global power and technological advancements, we are living in a time of great transformation. Forecasting changes on the horizon and developing plans to position ourselves is how we will secure a strong economy in the long term.

The EETF was fittingly launched at MineSense, a Vancouver company that is pioneering the kind of innovation that will drive the growth of B.C’.s economy. Its smart mining tech saves mines millions, while reducing electricity use, water consumption and tailings. Crucially, MineSense demonstrates that we do not need to choose between our traditional resource sector and our growing technology sector. Instead, we can unite them to develop our resources more cleanly and efficiently, while creating new products to export.

We ended the year with the launch of the CleanBC plan. This was a significant moment for me, as I entered politics because I believe we have a duty to younger generations to leave the world no worse, and ideally better off, than we found it. CleanBC gets us 75% towards our commitment under the Paris climate accords. Policy work on the remaining 25% is underway and will be articulated in intentions papers next year.

The BC NDP’s decision to proceed with tax breaks for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry makes our targets harder to achieve, although the premier continues to publicly commit to making LNG development fit within them. The BC Greens maintain that the need to limit global warming outweighs any benefit from developing additional fossil fuel infrastructure, particularly as the cost of renewables continues to fall and clean-tech opportunities proliferate. However, a challenge like climate change requires us to work across party lines and not just pick up our ball and go home when we don’t get what we want. Our working relationship with government remains productive and collaborative, and I believe we can accomplish more good things together until the next election.

What gives me hope is that CleanBC is an economic vision, something I have long argued any successful climate plan must be. As the world transitions to cleaner solutions, B.C. can strategically position itself to take advantage of new low-carbon opportunities. We have all the comparative advantages we need – a highly educated workforce, abundant renewable resources and one of the world’s most beautiful places to live in. We will do this by providing targeted incentives, championing innovators like MineSense and ensuring we leave no potential added value off the table.

We have more challenges to tackle in 2019. The housing market is cooling, giving British Columbians confidence they will be able to afford to live in the province they call home. My office is monitoring the market closely to ensure the government’s policies achieve the right balance. We will continue to push for investments to fund the CleanBC plan and to provide services like high-quality child care, education and job training to help British Columbians get ahead.

The BC Greens will continue to advocate for a forward-looking approach that will set our province up for a the highest possible degree of success, both in the short term and for generations to come. •

Andrew Weaver is leader of the BC Green Party.