How long can you still crow about the ribbon you got for the science fair project in grade school?
It’s a question that kept going through my mind as I stared into the BC government’s budget documents at the briefing on Tuesday. In the Finance Minister’s speech, the Ministerial Services plan, in the strategic plan … everywhere I read about BC’s climate leadership, but nowhere did I see any other details to back up that statement.
In 2008, the government of Premier Gordon Campbell announced a carbon tax, the first of its kind in North America. BC was indeed a leader and the plan to progressively increase the revenue neutral tax, along with several other initiatives, certainly made many of us feel like it was the dawn of a new day. And it was and we were so happy to acknowledge that great leadership.
But under Premier Clark’s leadership, we’ve seen no new initiatives. The carbon tax remains but it’s not been increased in many years and now does not bring in enough revenue to cover those costs that were to make it neutral.
The 2016 budget did not even mention the Climate Leadership Team so proudly announced by the Premier, nor any allusion to the recommendations they made.
No expansion of the Climate Action Secretariat. No bold programs to help move industry away from its reliance on fossil fuels or to reduce their greenhouse gases.
Nothing, except more investment in fossil fuel development. More rhetoric about the mythical future of the LNG industry. More talk about resource development. More talk about supporting industries that contribute to climate change.
This isn’t leadership, it’s green washing.
Going to Paris doesn’t mean you’re a climate change leader. Implementing initiatives that help Canada meet its climate commitments does.
Keeping the same old carbon tax in place doesn’t mean you’re a climate leader. Expanding it so its benefits are felt more widely does.
Our government in BC is acting like climate deniers while wrapping themselves in the climate leadership superhero cloak. They see they need to invest more in emergency response – flood management and fire response – but refuse to make the connection to other parts of their government that are supporting making those disasters worse.
They can be proud of the ribbon so many of us gave them in 2008 when they announced the carbon tax. But it’s time to put that dusty ribbon away and actually step into 2016 with some bold climate leadership. Time is running out and it is nowhere in sight.