BC Government Attacks Vancouver’s Attempt To Limit Emissions

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

As of this morning, there is an emissions cap on all new construction and buildings applying for rezoning. There are several ways developers “can meet the energy efficiency and emissions targets (50 per cent decrease in GHGs).” They can use “better insulation, thicker windows, and better design, as well as opting for renewable energy.” However, the largest cause of the city’s emissions is natural gas and so the BC Government attacks Vancouver’s attempt to limit emissions.

British Columbia is in the midst of a provincial election.

According to Andrew Wilkinson, the Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena, if his party is reelected they will change the legislation that lets cities set up their own building codes.

He told reporters, “While we all agree that climate change must be addressed, banning natural gas from the City of Vancouver at a huge cost to residents is not the way to go … We’ve come to the conclusion the only way to deal with this situation is to repeal the city’s ban on natural gas.”

In response, the city of Vancouver issued a press release pointing out it is not banning the use of natural gas.

The Cornerstone Of Clark’s Energy Policy

However, putting a cap on the city’s emissions will lead to a decrease in consumption of natural gas. The city’s Renewable Energy Strategy contains phrases like:

  • ” …  70% of BC greenhouse gas emission sources, including the most common fuels like gasoline, diesel, propane, and natural gas.” [1. City of Vancouver, RENEWABLE CITY STRATEGY 2015-2050, p 17]
  • ” … Biomethane provides a ready opportunity to decarbonize space heat and hot water in buildings that currently use natural gas.” [2. Ibid , p 28]
  • “Enable the conversion of the Downtown and hospital steam systems from natural gas to renewable energy” [2. Ibid, p 30]

Despite her pretence of being a climate leader, the cornerstone of Clark’s energy policy is developing fossil fuels. She once spoke of the province’s LNG sector as “a possible $1 trillion” opportunity. Most of the province’s fracking sites were developed under her watch. In return, the province’s fracking, gas pipeline and LNG companies have pumped $1,007,456 into the Liberals’ campaign chest since the last election.

Premier Christy Clark smelling a baby prior to the 2013 election by Amber Strocel via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

FortisBC Applauds BC Liberals’ Decision

FortisBC applauds the BC Liberals’ decision. The company currently has 108,000 customers in Vancouver. It is afraid that some of the city’s older buildings will now have to curtail their emissions by as much as 70% to qualify for rezoning. The new regulations “will effectively eliminate the use of natural gas for space and water heating in rezoned buildings.”

“We didn’t know (the BC Liberal announcement)  was coming down the pipe, so we are surprised but it’s encouraging that it’s being talked about. Customers would again have the choice of natural gas and natural gas is one-third the price of electricity, so if the policies come into effect customer energy costs would increase,” said Jason Wolfe, the company’s director of energy solutions.

Fortis’ Ties To The BC Liberal Government

Fortis has several connections to the BC Liberals. The government recently awarded Fortis a $520 million pipeline contract to the Woodfibre LNG site. Once it is operational the pipeline will provide 10 full-time jobs. Fortis donated $210,703 [4.  Nicolas Graham, Shannon Daub and Bill Carroll, Mapping Political Influence: Political donations and lobbying by the fossil fuel industry in BC, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives & the Corporate Mapping Project, p 15] to the party’s campaign chest between 2008-15. A study from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that over a seven-year period, Fortis’ lobbyists contacted government ministries and agencies 2,377 times. [5.  Ibid, p 19] It also contacted several key members in the Clark government, such as the  Premier and key ministers like Rich Coleman, Bill Bennet and Mary Polak. [6.  Ibid, p 20] One of Fortis’ senior managers, Gord Schoberg, is now Environment Minister Mary Polak’s campaign manager.

A company spokesperson said that Schoberg is free to do whatever he wishes in his spare time.

The Threat Of Becoming 100% Renewable

FortisBC is not the only fossil fuel company with reason to be concerned about Vancouver’s goal of becoming a 100% Renewable City by 2050.

There is a growing movement among the world’s cities. British Columbia’s provincial capital (Victoria) has already joined it. Lower mainland cities like Burnaby, New Westminster, and the City of North Vancouver could follow suit.

The idea of actually limiting global warming to 2 degrees, rather than just talking about it, might catch on!

This translates into lost revenues for British Columbia’s fossil fuel sector and probably weakens the government that represents them.

The BC Liberals have already scuttled the province’s 2020 emission’s target.

Matt Horne, a former member of BC’s Climate Leadership Team who is now Vancouver’s Climate Policy Manager, tweeted:

Illustration Credits: City of Vancouver;City of Vancouver, Cover RENEWABLE CITY STRATEGY 2015-2050;Premier Christy Clark smelling a baby prior to the 2013 election by Amber Strocel via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Vancouver’s Targets RENEWABLE CITY STRATEGY 2015-2050; Sources of Energy Used in Vancouver RENEWABLE CITY STRATEGY 2015-2050; Nicolas Graham, Shannon Daub and Bill Carroll, Mapping Political Influence: Political donations and lobbying by the fossil fuel industry in BC, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives & the Corporate Mapping Project; A Retweet of Matt Horne’s Twitter feed

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales