BC sets new interim GHG reduction targets

Emissions were up 3% in BC in 2018, according first annual report

'It's clear we still have much more to do in order to meet our CleanBC targets' -- BC Environment Minister George Heyman. | Jeremy Hainsworth

The BC government today released the first of what will be an annual climate accountability report on provincial greenhouse gas emissions and the upshot is that the one it releases in 2022 will most certainly look a whole lot better.

There is a two-year lag in the reporting, so the first annual report released Wednesday is for 2018.

That report showed a 3% increase in CO2 equivalent (CO2e) over 2017 and a 7% increase over 2007 levels, which is the benchmark B.C. is using for its emissions reductions targets.

Those targets are extremely ambitious, and Wednesday’s report underscored just how hard it is going to be to meet those targets.

The government has set a target of a 40% reduction over 2007 levels by 2030, a 60% reduction by 2040 and 80% by 2050.

But in recent years, B.C.’s emissions have been going up, not down. That is not necessarily a reflection on the efficacy – or lack thereof -- of B.C.’s carbon tax, low carbon fuel standard and other climate action policies, but rather its population and economic growth. B.C.'s per capita emissions are down 8% over 2007, according to the report.

The 2022 report will certainly show a decrease in B.C.’s emissions in 2020, as pandemic restrictions on work, play and travel resulted in a dramatic decrease in fuel use this year.

Wednesday’s report shows some hopeful signs of progress in terms of decarbonization in 2019. They include:

  • 9% of passenger vehicle sales in B.C. were zero-emission vehicles;
  • a 55% increase over 2018 in new electric vehicle charging stations;
  • a 10% increase in homes now using heat pumps;
  • an 11% decrease over 2014 levels of fugitive methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

In attempt to keep itself on track to meet emissions reduction targets, the B.C. government is setting a new interim target. It wants a 16% reduction in emissions over 2007 levels by 2025.

"It's clear we still have much more to do in order to meet our CleanBC targets and I won't be satisfied until we see a significant and steady decline in emissions,” BC Environment Minister George Heyman said.

“To make sure we stay on track to build a cleaner and stronger future, we're putting in place a new near-term emission target that is both ambitious and achievable. This is another key step on the path to reaching our climate targets for 2030 and beyond.”