BC Election Climate Primer

Author’s note: while every effort has been made to remain non-partisan and fair in the presentation of the parties’ platforms, the proceeding evaluation inevitably reflects the view of the author.

If you’re anything like me, election season is stressful.

In the weeks leading up to the fateful day, there is a constant barrage of spin, slogans, and smear. Trying to wade through all this rhetoric to get to the actual policies proposed by each party is no easy task. For this reason, we’ve prepared a primer on climate issues for the upcoming election, to aid you in making an informed decision come election day. Of course, there’s many other issues at stake in this election, which cannot be covered here. For this, and for a fuller exploration of each party’s climate platform, please do check out the parties’ complete platforms for yourself! You can find links to these in their names.

-Affirms 2016 Climate Leadership plan, which sets an target of reducing emissions to 80% below that of 2007 levels by 2050.

-Centres on resource development as the backbone of economic and job growth. This includes:

  • Continued approval for Site C
  • A goal of three LNG plants in construction by 2020
  • Support for “the development of refineries and pipelines” that meet environmental assessment guidelines.
  • Supports fracking in the Motney Basin, one of the largest natural gas reserves in North America.

-Will not raise carbon tax until federally mandated to do so in 2021.

The BC Liberals, particularly under Gordon Campbell, were once leaders in climate action, with the introduction of a revenue-neutral carbon tax and aggressive targets for emissions reductions, among other things. This, however, has waned under the current government, led by Christy Clark. The 2017 election platform makes this shift clear—it refuses to raise the carbon tax, commits to the emissions target without any mention of how, and places natural resources (including LNG and Site C) at the centre of its plan for jobs and the economy. Moreover, it fails to acknowledge that the Liberals missed the legislated 2016 emissions target, barely made the 2012 target, and are on pace to completely miss the 2020 target of 30%.

To sum it up, the Liberals’ approach is one that tries to “have your cake and eat it too.” They want a thriving economy primarily fueled by the development of natural resources and they want to be leaders in Climate action. Wise voters will understand that we simply cannot have both.

-Affirms 2016 emissions targets, promising to get BC on track to reach the 2050 goal.

-Promises to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline project, so far as they are able.

-Proposes the creation of PowerBC, which is “designed to reduce electricity demand, generate new energy responsibly and  sustainably, and create lasting good jobs in energy efficiency and generation”

-Does not directly address Site C, though promises to “maximize current infrastructure” and to invest in solar and wind power.

-Will not raise carbon tax until federally mandated to do so in 2021.

-Promises to review the practice of fracking and to ensure that all LNG projects meet the needs of British Columbians, First Nations, and the environment.

Though the NDP are rather vague about the details of their plan for the environment, I am more hopeful for them than for their Liberal counterparts. The problem is, of course, that I have no recent experience with the NDP to base this off of. I simply do not know the NDP’s track record with regards to the environment. Furthermore, I am afraid that there is a bit of political opportunism in their reticence to make clear promises on some more controversial issues (such as Site C) and their voiced opposition of other relatively-less controversial issues (such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline). Still, in light of the Liberals’ trajectory, the NDP offer a hopeful alternative.


-Plans to raise the carbon tax by $10/tonne each year for four years, starting in 2018.

-Amend the current emissions targets to include a goal of 40% reduction by 2030.

-Commits to “collaborative stewardship of resources” with First Nations.

-As for other specific issues, the Green’s platform is fairly mum. Instead, it focuses on a positive proposal for both countering and dealing with the effects of climate change. This can be found under “Appendix I” and is definitely worth the read. Their “Climate Action Strategy” focuses on four areas:

1. Behaviour change

2. Energy efficiency

3. Low carbon fuels and materials

4. Carbon sinks (i.e. things that trap carbon in the atmosphere, such as forests)

So, while they may not focus on particular issues, such as pipelines or Site C (though it is assumed that they are against such things), they cast a much broader vision for trying to change the tide when it comes to climate change in BC. This plan has been lauded by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute for helping BC “regain its status as a climate leader.”

I really appreciated the Greens’ climate plan; I think it is a real step in the right direction. I am hopeful that the Greens will send some of their candidates to the Legislature, offering a constructive voice of opposition to whoever forms the government.


Ultimately, climate justice does not factor prominently in either the Liberals’ and NDP’s platforms; rather, they are oriented around jobs and the economy. While this is perhaps not surprising, it is nonetheless disappointing that at this point in history and in this self-professed climate-leading province, climate appears to be more of an afterthought in the two most prominent parties’ platforms. That being said, the Greens merit consideration for their attempt to deal with both the causes and the consequences of climate change.

In the end, we have a lot more work to do than just vote; we must engage with our provincial government, regardless of who gets elected, and call them to defend the parcel of creation entrusted to us. But vote we must—and we must do what we can to make an informed decision.


Mitchell Ferreira is a recent graduate of Regent College and a recent addition to the Earthkeepers team. He is an avid skier, sports fan, and all around lover of creation. He’s about to leave the bubble of Christian higher education to the wild world of law school where he hopes to pursue environmental and indigenous law.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.