The British Columbia government says it’s rolling out a new framework for approving oil and gas projects that will ensure the province meets its emissions targets in the coming decades.
Premier David Eby said Tuesday the framework will require new liquefied natural gas facilities to have a “credible plan” for net-zero emissions by 2030 and there will be an emissions cap on the industry.
Eby said his government will establish a major projects and clean energy office to fast-track proposals that use clean technologies and create jobs.
The government will also launch a task force within BC Hydro to speed up the electrification of the provincial economy with a focus on renewable energy.
Environment Minister George Heyman said the new framework ensures industry is under “strong” emissions reduction requirements while allowing it to seize upon opportunities to use emerging clean energy technologies.
A government statement said the framework “builds off” the environmental assessment certificate granted to the Cedar LNG facility announced Tuesday, which it declared will be one of the lowest-emitting liquefied natural gas facilities in the world.
“Global markets have rapidly changed over the last couple of years and the urgency over the low-carbon economy we need to build has only grown,” Eby said at a press conference.
“But the scale of the climate crisis and the tremendous opportunities before us mean we must act with more urgency than ever before.”
Eby said the province will bring in an emissions cap to provide “predictability and strong measures to align efforts” to hit B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions targets.
“Our intention is to leverage our clean electricity to supercharge B.C.’s economy and open new opportunities for business and job growth in the future.”
Peter McCartney with the Western Canada Wilderness Committee said the announcement was “a poor cover for a brand new fossil fuel infrastructure project when the province is already not on track to meet its climate commitment.”
McCartney said he couldn’t square the approval of the Haisla Nation’s Cedar LNG project in Kitimat with the province’s climate goals.
“I would have liked to hear the premier announce a plan for the transition away from fossil fuels that obviously does not include building brand new liquefied natural gas projects that will be around for decades,” he said. “That’s what bold climate action looks like in the 2020s.”
McCartney said the B.C. government approving new LNG projects makes it unlikely that the province will meet emissions targets in 2025 and 2030.
“We’ve seen a pattern from this government where they approve new liquefied natural gas facilities that will create more climate pollution and then point to the existence of targets as justification for them,” he said. “But they have no policies that will actually meet those targets.”
Heyman said the new energy project framework was a very significant moment for climate action in British Columbia.
Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation, said the province was on the “front lines of climate change” and seeing its effects in wildfires, heat waves and flooding.
“British Columbians have made it clear that we need to meet our climate targets and move forward as a clean energy leader,” she said in a statement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.
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