The rise and fall of climate action in British Columbia
A lead sentence in the Throne Speech in British Columbia in 2008 was remarkable: “British Columbians are taking decisive action on climate change”. Legislation followed in short order that established, among other initiatives: North America’s first broad-spectrum, revenue-neutral, accelerating carbon-emissions tax; carbon neutral government; and a low-carbon fuel standard. These policies worked: emissions fell significantly relative to the rest of Canada thanks largely to the wise design of the carbon tax working in concert with other regulations.
But the carbon tax was frozen in 2012 by a new Premier, and emissions are rising once again. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, British Columbia can no longer claim to be a climate-action leader, a conclusion supported by inadequacies inherent in BC’s “Climate Leadership Plan” released in August, 2016.
Tom Pedersen, Professor of Paleoclimatology and Marine Geochemistry at the University of Victoria, Canada. Pedersen holds a BSc in Geology from the University of British Columbia (1974) and a PhD in Marine Geochemistry from the University of Edinburgh (1979). He served with the faculty of the Department of Oceanography at UBC from 1981 to 2002, as well as Associate Dean, Research and Faculty Development in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at UBC from 2000-2002. In 2002 moved to the University of Victoria to become Head of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. He subsequently served as Dean of Science at UVic for six years and in 2009 was appointed the founding Executive Director of the new Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, established at UVic via a $90M endowment from the Province of British Columbia. Pedersen stepped down from that role in late 2015 and is currently on research leave, writing a book about BC’s climate-action history and experience. He also serves as the Chair of the Ottawa-based non-profit, the Canadian Climate Forum, is a member of British Columbia’s Climate Leadership Team, and is one of two Canadian scientists appointed to the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Panel, along with ocean scientists from California, Oregon and Washington State.