Climate Target Accountability
BC may have had the best of intentions to show leadership in stopping runaway climate change, but failed to achieve its 2016 target. In setting new targets for 2030, the legislation introduced in May 2018 also scrapped the 2020 target all together.
This is why we were so delighted to see, on page 53 of the new CleanBC plan to reduce BC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, commitment to an improved climate accountability framework based on “transparent, forward-looking and independent public reporting”. This appears to include most of our key asks, including:
- Robust planning and reporting requirements;
- An independent climate body; and
- Shorter-term targets or carbon budgets.
But the proof is in the pudding: the intention is to implement these reforms through amendments to the Climate Change Accountability Act, expected in fall 2019, with important details to follow in regulations in 2020.
Learning from the more successful track records in GHG reductions achieved by countries such as Sweden and the UK, planning around carbon budgets as the centerpiece of a transparent and robust climate accountability framework is the tried and true path to take. And we don’t need to start from scratch – BC’s reduction targets, biennial progress reporting, and the Climate Solutions and Clean Growth Advisory Council provide a solid foundation. Together with best practices from UK, Swedish, Australian (Victoria), German, and recent New Zealand (still in process) laws, this framework should establish enforceable carbon budgets, mechanisms for planning in accordance with the budgets, and an independent advisory body to ensure progress towards the budgets.
Recommended requirements to ensure a strong accountability framework include:
- Interim carbon budgets and sectoral targets that cap the total GHG emissions that are available to “spend” over a 5-year or shorter time period;
- Planning mechanisms including clear allocation of responsibility across Ministries for achieving budgets, requirements that environmental assessments and other authorizations of GHG emissions be consistent with carbon budgets, and corrective plans to enact when the province is not on track to meet targets;
- Independent monitoring and verification of government progress towards achieving budgets.
- A periodic review of targets to ensure that they are aligned with the best available science.
[For more detail on what we’ll be looking for in a legislated climate accountability framework see this joint letter to Premier Horgan from 28 BC organizations.]
As well, CleanBC outlined a range of policies and tools that, if well-implemented, will get us 75% of the way to our 2030 emissions reduction target. It recognized the remaining 25% gap and committed to detail the remaining measures necessary to get 100% of the way to our target within “18-24 months”, which would be the end of 2020 at the latest. With this priority we will also be looking for the bold measures needed to close this gap, and launch us into the next phase of planning to meet our 2040 target.
We call on the BC government to legislate a science-based, transparent and enforceable accountability framework to support its CleanBC strategy, and to close the policy gap to achieve our 2030 target.