BC Election 2020:
Where do the parties stand on the Environment?

Click + to open each Section, Question and Party Response.

Missed the BC Climate and Environment debate? Catch up here.

The BC Greens believe that climate action needs to be at the core of our recovery strategy and jobs plan if we are serious about meeting our climate targets. Every decision we make now, and every dollar we invest into our economy, needs to move us towards a clean economy, not away from it. 

We have committed to carbon neutrality by 2045, matching California. We will develop a robust strategy to meet our 2030 target, and develop an accountability framework, interim targets and sectoral targets to ensure we get there. Our plan includes widespread electrification of transportation on a more ambitious timeline, expanding building retrofits, restoring and preserving our natural carbon sinks, and a $500 million clean jobs plan, among other commitments. 

The BC Greens are the only party with a plan that will meet our climate commitments while taking full advantage of the economic opportunities that a clean recovery offers. We’ll do this by supporting innovation and the development of clean industries in BC, providing the tools and incentives needed to meet our targets, and ensuring a just transition for workers in the oil and gas sector. 

An LNG industry doesn’t square with our climate commitments. It is extremely difficult – and potentially impossible – to meet our targets while incorporating any LNG. We are particularly concerned that the BC Liberals have stated their intention to further expand our LNG industry, and the BC NDP have not closed the door on further expansion, which would completely throw our climate targets out of the window.

Only if we get out of the businesses of propping up fossil fuel companies and expanding fracking will we be able to meet the climate challenge and succeed. Fossil fuel subsidies are environmentally and economically disastrous and we would move to end them immediately as a priority. This year alone the NDP are giving $1 billion dollars to fossil fuel companies. We don’t think BC can have it both ways – claiming to be a climate leader while also subsidising the very industry that is driving this crisis. If BC is going to build a world leading low-carbon economy, it has to move away from fossil fuels altogether. That’s why we will redirect the $1 billion we currently spend on fossil fuel subsidies to supporting green innovation, helping grow businesses in BC and helping us meet our goal of being a world-leading low-carbon economy. 

We will also establish a $500 million fund to support sustainable jobs focused on enhancing BC’s natural assets, tree planting, conservation, remediating environmental liabilities, as well as climate adaptation and improving community resilience to climate change. And we will implement a just transition program for workers in the oil and gas sector and other industries in transition, working with them on a pathway to a guaranteed job in the clean economy.

A. Our Government was proud to bring in CleanBC – the strongest climate plan in North America. Our 2020 platform contains specific measures to strengthen and expand our CleanBC plan while making major investments to support the transition to a low-carbon economy. These commitments total over $500 million in new spending – that’s in addition to the $1.3 billion previously committed to CleanBC. On top of that our platform commits billions of dollars to new infrastructure projects, such as expanding public transit, which will help us achieve our targets. As for LNG, we’ve said all along that LNG proposals have to fit within our climate commitments – and that has never changed. All emissions from LNG Canada’s phase 1 project are modelled in our CleanBC climate plan. We can only consider further LNG development proposals if proponents demonstrate how they and the sector will reduce or sequester their carbon emissions to fit within our CleanBC commitments — they cannot expect all other industries to carry the full load while they expand emissions.

B. Yes. Our platform commits to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 – in alignment with the federal target. To get there, our platform expands CleanBC and commits to investing in made-in-BC carbon capture and storage technology.

C. We are working hard to create a clean-energy future for British Columbians. A re-elected NDP government will conduct a comprehensive review of oil and natural gas royalty credits. This review will be conducted with an environmental lens.

We believe that fossil fuel companies need to pay their fair share of the costs they have imposed onto society, and we recognize that our adaptation costs are going to be significant if we are going to adequately protect communities across BC from the impacts of the climate crisis. The amount of money the province has spent on wildfire response alone in the past number of years is just one immediate example of the costs to taxpayers. There are examples in a range of jurisdictions where governments and people are seeking to hold fossil fuel companies accountable, and we would review lessons learned from elsewhere in informing our approach.

We fully expect industry to do the work and reduce their carbon pollution, and we are working with them to do that through carbon taxes, regulations, and incentives to switch to cleaner technology. Going forward we will require industry to be bonded for the full cost of environmental damages that are outside their permit conditions and environmental laws and regulations.

Absolutely – we have committed to a comprehensive series of reforms to our forestry industry in our platform to move us away from our current unsustainable forestry management regime. We are urgently in need of modernization. 

Our plan will reform forestry management in BC so that it serves the long-term needs of local communities and supports a truly sustainable industry, where community and ecosystem values are the primary focus of management, with timber supply as simply one benefit among many. We will take back control of our forests from major corporations, ensuring forestry is meeting the needs of local communities.

Some specific policies that we have included as part of this reform include: 

  • Beginning a process of tenure reform to redistribute tenures from a few major companies and grow the proportion of tenures held by first nations and community forests.
  • Adopting a wider variety of logging practices, including selective logging and longer stand rotations.
  • Reinstating government authority in decision-making at provincial and local levels, beginning with enhancing the authority of district managers to refuse or amend permits.
  • Establishing a forester general position, an officer of the legislature who is non-partisan and reports to the House annually.
  • Establishing a Chief Biologist as counterpart to the Chief Forester to ensure multiple values are adequately incorporated into timber supply analysis.
  • Enhancing capacity in FLNRO and establishing more community based Ministry of Forests staff, to support the sustainable management of local forest resources and provide well-paying community jobs.

This work has already been started. Last spring, we brought in long overdue changes to the Forest and Range Practices Act to ensure the health and sustainability of our forests and range lands, while strengthening people’s confidence in how BC manages these public resources. We have been engaging further with people and stakeholders on how we can strengthen the act, with the principles of resiliency of the land, public trust, reconciliation, scientific knowledge and flexibility. A re-elected NDP Government would continue this work. In collaboration with Indigenous leaders, labour, industry, and environmental groups, we will implement all the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review to create a paradigm shift in the way old forests are managed and protected.
A re-elected NDP government would also create a watershed security strategy to plan, manage and protect local watersheds for the public good. As part of the strategy, we will seek a partnership with the federal government to establish a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous, local, and regionally led clean water initiatives – and create good, sustainable, local jobs for British Columbians in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, and education.

Yes, we are committed to fully implementing all of the Old Growth Panel’s recommendations, with necessary funding. The BC Greens are strongly committed to protecting our remaining old growth forests. For decades, successive governments in BC have played games with the numbers, misleading people about how much old growth is left in BC, while continuing to log high quality, high productivity old growth stands at an accelerating pace. We are now approaching a point in some places where almost all of this unprotected old growth will be gone in the near future. 

We urgently need to protect our remaining high-value, old-growth forests forever. The BC Green Party would immediately move to fully implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review panel in partnership with First Nations. This includes an immediate end to the logging of old growth forests in high-risk ecosystems across the province. We would also enact legislation that establishes conservation of ecosystem health and biodiversity of BC’s forests as an overarching priority and establish funding mechanisms to support the preservation of our old growth forests. The core part of this is conservation financing. For far too long, small communities and First Nations have been given restricted avenues for economic activity, including reliance on old growth logging. We simply can’t protect our old growth as it needs to be protected without a commitment to conservation financing to enable local communities and First Nations to pursue alternative economic development pathways.

We cannot afford four more years of consultation and little action. We need to move now to protect what we have left.

A. A re-elected NDP government will implement all of the Old Growth Panel’s recommendations. The report advises that the implementation plan should be developed in collaboration with Indigenous governments, and in consultation with many others. Our government is committed to investing the time and resources necessary to do this work as recommended by the panel.
B. BC New Democrats are committed to rebuilding a healthy, sustainable forestry industry through innovation, more sustainable practices, and increased value-added processing. As a government we took important first steps to improving forest health,
modernize forestry practices, spur innovation. A re-elected NDP government would build on that. We are committed to:
• Planting more trees for a healthy industry and province: With nearly 300 million trees planted in 2020 – more than in any other year in BC’s history – we’ll continue to make significant investments in forest health, wildfire protection, silviculture, and revitalizing our forests.
• Enhance mass timber’s potential as the construction material of the future: Mass timber’s time has arrived – cleaner to produce than traditional lumber or concrete, it is the future of construction. We’ve already designated the new Royal BC Museum and parts of the new St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver as mass timber buildings, and we’ll continue to make it a priority for public buildings moving forward.

Yes – land use planning is at the core of many of the conflicts and shortcomings in our approach to natural resource management in BC. We would work in partnership with Indigenous nations to modernize our land-use planning processes as a priority, taking a landscape-level ecosystem-based management approach to management.

Yes. After the BC NDP formed government we began this important work by committing $16 million over three years with Indigenous governments, communities, and stakeholders to modernize land use planning. A re-elected NDP Government will continue this important work. Our platform commits to partnering with Indigenous peoples through evolving shared decision making. The 2019 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has set the table for more meaningful shared decision making. As we move forward with key decisions on regional land and resource use allocation, we will partner with First Nations, providing a clear, stable and sustainable path for everyone to work together.

Yes, enhancing the amount of nature we are protecting is a critical way to support a number of goals, from habitat protection to keep wildlife populations up, to recovering species at risk, to restoring and protecting our natural carbon sinks. We agree that the Federal commitment is a significant opportunity that we need to capitalize on, in full partnership with First Nations.

A. Our 2020 platform makes a clear commitment to expand BC’s parks and protected areas. In particular, we are committed to protecting watersheds and caribou habitat. Our platform commits to creating a watershed protection strategy and earlier this year we partnered with the Saulteau and West Moberly First Nations and the federal government to achieve a historic agreement that strives to protect southern mountain caribou in northeastern B.C. This included a commitment to protect over 700,000 hectares of important caribou habitat in northeastern B.C.;

B. Going forward, a re-elected NDP government will continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous nations to ensure watersheds and caribou populations are protected. We will work with Indigenous Nations as they bring forward a specific proposal for a protected area, as this is already a mandate under the Declaration Act and our commitment to reconciliation.

We agree that BC Parks continues to be under-staffed and under-resourced, even as parks use increases. We would enhance funding for B.C. Parks and the Conservation Officer Service, to improve infrastructure and ensure that our natural ecosystems are not being degraded. We would also create more campgrounds to meet demand, ensuring that the creation of more sites is commensurate with expanding overall park land and does not cut into existing protected areas.

Our 2020 platform commits to expanding BC’s popular provincial parks by creating new campgrounds, trails, and protected areas while increasing funding to improve infrastructure and protect park ecosystems.

Yes, the BC Greens will take a number of steps to improve our protections of watersheds. 

We would conduct comprehensive watershed planning in conjunction with First Nations, communities, government agencies, stewardship organizations and industry and including watersheds as part of landscape-level planning. We would expand the model of local watershed boards across the province, establishing shared decision-making authority with watershed boards, with watershed sustainability as a core mandate. We would also establish a fund to support local clean water initiatives and jobs in watershed restoration, stewardship, monitoring and associated programs. The protection of freshwater is the motivating reason Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens got into politics after successfully fighting to prevent the contamination of her local community’s drinking water supply in the Cowichan Valley.

The work that could be facilitated by a BC Watershed Security Fund will also be vital with worsening climate change. According to the Province’s risk assessment, the top challenges B.C. is likely to face in the coming decades are severe wildfire seasons, seasonal water shortage, extreme heat waves, ocean acidification, glacier mass loss, and long-term water shortage. B.C.’s freshwater is becoming all the more precious and its protection must be prioritized.

a. The BC NDP understands the importance of recognizing Indigenous jurisdiction and engaging local communities in managing local waters. When we formed government in March 2018 we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nicola Valley First Nations to collaboratively manage the Nicola watershed. We are honoured that one of the chiefs involved in that agreement, Aaron Sumexheltza, has chosen to run as a BC NDP candidate in this election. Our 2020 platform commits to a new watershed protection strategy which will be developed together with First Nations and communities.

b. Yes. As part of our watershed security strategy plan, we will seek a partnership with the federal government to establish a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous, local, and regionally led clean water initiatives – and create good, sustainable, local jobs for British Columbians in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, and education.

Yes, we would take a number of steps to improve our management of our fish and wildlife in BC. Lack of funding and commitment to science, vague population and ecosystem objectives, and a tendency to side with industry instead of threatened species has meant that many of B.C.’s fish and wildlife populations are being managed to zero. The proportion of the provincial budget dedicated to renewable resource management has declined dramatically over the last few decades. Our ecosystems are suffering degradation related to cumulative impacts that ought to be scientifically evaluated, tracked, mitigated, and prevented by government, in consultation with local communities and First Nations. As climate change worsens, these problems will be exacerbated.

We have committed to a number of steps in our platform to improve our management of fish and wildlife. We would ensure appropriate legislative oversight through creating legislated objectives for fish and wildlife, move the fish and wildlife branch from FLNRO and the Ministry of Environment, urgently match and exceed historic provincial funding levels for the fish and wildlife branch to match the unprecedented challenges we now face. We would also ensure that science about the status of our wildlife and environment is independent from political interference and made freely available to the public. We would enhance funding for wildlife conservation, habitat protection and habitat acquisition and dedicate all fishing, hunting, guide-outfitting, and trapping license fees for this purpose.

Our platform does not specifically address legally binding objectives for wildlife habitat protection or dedicated funding sources for recovery of species in decline, but it makes clear commitments to do more to protect fish and wildlife habitat. We will expand BC parks and protected areas, work with neighbouring jurisdictions to cooperatively develop and invest in new strategies aimed at better protecting our shared wildlife and habitat corridors. We will create a watershed security strategy to plan, manage and protect local watersheds, and develop a new provincial coastal strategy – in partnership with First Nations and federal and local governments – to better protect coastal habitat while growing coastal economies.

Yes, we are committed to introducing an endangered species law that establishes legal protection of species and their habitat to ensure their recovery and survival. It is shocking that we still have no legislated protection of species and their habitat in BC. We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, and have a responsibility to protect our endangered species, not only for ourselves but for the world.

We are dedicated to protecting and supporting the recovery of endangered species. The BCNDP believes it is important to coordinate protection of species at risk with activities to enhance the health of the ecosystem as a whole. We are committed to doing this work in partnership with civil society groups, and with Indigenous Peoples to ensure that the application of Indigenous knowledge, culture and practice is properly reflected in legislation. Doing this work respectfully and properly takes time but we are committed to completing it. We were pleased to hear that Canada is evaluating the federal Species at Risk legislation. We are working with the federal government on pilot projects for species at risk protection and recovery strategies, as well as our Partnership Agreement with the West Moberly, Saulteau and federal governments, to inform legislation with successful measures and ensure that provincial and federal measures are aligned to protect biodiversity and help recover species at risk in BC.

Yes, we commit to working with DFO, First Nations, local communities and industry to cancel open-net pen fish farm tenures, and create a closed-containment land-based fish farming industry. We support the full implementation of the Wild Salmon Advisory Council recommendations and Cohen Commission recommendations, working urgently to enforce all measures within provincial jurisdiction, and we will negotiate strongly with DFO to complete the recommendations under federal jurisdiction. 

We need to see far more regulatory and financial support to aid in the creation of a closed-containment land-based fish farm sector. Likewise, we would consult on alternate aquaculture practices that are not polluting, such as the farming of food-grade seaweed, to create new and sustainable employment opportunities. There have been countless studies on what we should do to help wild salmon – what is missing is the political will to action those solutions. We must act urgently and ambitiously to save B.C.’s salmon.

As government, the BC NDP demonstrated an approach to fish farms focused on advancing reconciliation and protecting wild salmon. In June 2018, our government began a historic government-to-government process with ‘Namgis, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis and Mamalilikulla First Nations to determine the future of fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago. Now an orderly transition of fish farms out of the Broughton is underway and an important migratory path for our wild salmon is clear. We will immediately engage the federal government on expanding the successful approach we took in the Broughton Archipelago to other areas where we are invited to do so by local First Nations.

Yes, we are committed to increasing and improving salmon habitat. Through enhancements to funding for wildlife conservation, habitat protection and habitat acquisition, and through our $500 million sustainable jobs plan, we would prioritize improvements to critical habitat to support our salmon runs, and create local jobs in the process.

Yes. Our StrongerBC plan invested $41 million in watershed restoration, including improved diking and culverts, and coastal cleanup of plastic waste and debris. Additionally, we partnered with the federal government to create the $143 million BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. If re-elected, we would work with the federal government to double this fund, which supports the protection and restoration of priority wild fish stocks, including salmon. Our 2020 platform also commits to creating a watershed security strategy to plan, manage and protect local watersheds for the public good. As part of the strategy, we will seek a partnership with the federal government to establish a Watershed Security Fund to fund Indigenous, local, and regionally led clean water initiatives – and create good, sustainable, local jobs for British Columbians in watershed restoration, monitoring, technology, training, and education.

The Mineral Tenure Act and the Mines Act need to be modernized, to reflect more holistic natural resource management and land use planning, to strengthen protection of the public interest, and to implement DRIPA and be consistent with our duties to Indigenous Nations. We would work with stakeholders in consultation to review and implement changes to these ends.

The BC NDP is committed to reviewing the Mineral Tenure Act and bringing it into line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – as we are with all legislation in BC. This is a significant undertaking and the priorities are being set jointly with Indigenous leadership. A re-elected NDP government will bring forward an action plan detailing which policies and pieces of legislation will be addressed first.

We believe that there is a fundamental role that government, as regulator, is meant to be playing – to regulate an industry, to ensure that an industry is following the rules, and protecting the public interest.

The BC Greens’ have pushed for remediation to the Tulsequah Chief mine for years at the legislature, and we were in favour of the recent funding allocated to the work as an initial step. But there’s a history in our resource sectors, not only in the mining sector, where the reclamation and cleanup from a site is left to taxpayers. That is an unacceptable situation, and needs to change. We believe that companies need to pay for externalities and environmental damage and would be supportive of strengthening rules for upfront bonding to ensure polluters actually pay. 

We know that mining practices need to be cleaned up and the industry needs to operate more responsibly if we are to seize the opportunity that minerals and metals provide in the clean energy economy. There are significant opportunities to better harness innovation to improve practices and environmental impacts of mining, and this is one area that the province could lean into, in keeping with the recommendations from BC’s first Innovation Commissioner, to partner with industry and academia to spur development of technological solutions. We also need to ensure that government is doing its job as a regulator and that it is not simply trying to enhance competitiveness at the expense of accountability — and we still have significant progress to make on that front to ensure companies are undertaking responsible mining practices in BC.

A. Our government has demonstrated that we are committed to dealing with the legacies of industrial projects. As part of our economic recovery plan – StrongerBC – our government took action to begin the work of cleaning up Tulsequah Chief in cooperation with the Taku River Tlingit. This was one of several investments our government has made in remediation and habitat restoration.

B. The BC NDP is committed to making polluters pay for cleanup of abandoned projects. A re-elected NDP government will make sure owners of large industrial projects are fully-bonded moving forward, so that they – and not BC taxpayers – pay the full cost of environmental cleanup if their projects are abandoned.

C. A re-elected BC NDP government would create a Mining Innovation Hub to identify and support innovation, training for workers in new technologies, regulatory excellence, environmental management, and low-carbon approaches.

We are supportive of implementing a provincial zero waste strategy, and have consistently advocated for a BC-wide plan over the last number of years. We would work with stakeholders to ensure that the strategy is effective in not simply substituting one problem in for another and that we have a significant net positive impact through waste reduction.

BC has the most extensive suite of Extended Producer Responsibility programs in Canada, and the BC NDP is committed to building and expanding on those to reduce waste. As a government, we demonstrated this commitment by launching the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan, enabling municipalities to ban plastic bags, and beginning the process of phasing-out of single use plastics province wide while expanding recycling programs to include a broader range of waste including toxic materials. A re-elected BC NDP government will implement and build on this strategy, including bringing forward new legislation in 2021.

Yes. Our coastal communities and ecosystems are facing a number of complex challenges that require a coordinated and strategic response, which would best be done under a Coastal Law and Strategy. The challenges our coast faces range from current and worsening impacts of climate change, environmental degradation, significant risk from increased tanker traffic, and overlapping jurisdiction that results in governments passing the buck to each other on crucial issues, like protecting our wild salmon and management of ocean debris. We don’t pretend that a Coastal Law and Strategy would be a panacea to all of these challenges, but it would enable the BC government to be a more deliberate and impactful actor in managing our coastal ecosystems and protecting coastal communities, including where it interacts with the Federal government.

A re-elected BC NDP government will develop and implement a new provincial coastal strategy – in partnership with First Nations and federal and local governments – to better protect coastal habitat while growing coastal economies. If it is determined that legislation is necessary to implement the strategy, an NDP government will introduce it.

We have consistently called for government to halt construction on Site C since the significant geotechnical risks facing the project came to light. The government doesn’t even know how to address the problems that have been identified with Site C, much less how much those solutions would cost. We strongly believe they should follow the advice of experts and stop digging, until a full and transparent review can be completed and the costs are known. We can’t keep throwing good money after bad, especially without knowing whether we can complete the project or what the final price tag will be.

The BC NDP would not have started this project, but our government was forced to make a decision looking forward, not back. It was one of the most difficult decisions we faced after forming government, and we ultimately decided we were not willing to ask British Columbians to take on a $4 billion debt with nothing in return. BC Hydro is in the process of conducting a rebaselining analysis of the project. We hired Mr. Peter Milburn, a former Deputy Minister of Finance, as a special advisor to review the project and provide independent advice. A re-elected BC NDP government will carefully consider BC Hydro’s analysis and Mr. Milburn’s advice.

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