British Columbia’s generally conservative Liberal Party premier, Gordon Campbell, earned my respect this winter when he banned new coal-fired power plants from releasing CO2 — in effect mandating the use of carbon sequestration (or, as my coverage at TechReview.com indicated, driving planned coal plants to instead burn renewable wood). Now Campbell has gone much further — at least on paper.
Campbell announced this past weekend that his government will propose legislation this fall to mandate a 33% cut in greenhouse gases from current levels by 2020; a still to be announced Climate Action Team representing environmental organizations, business, science and First Nations is to set binding midterm targets for 2012 and 2016 by July 31, 2008.
Here are a few of the measures BC intends to launch over the coming year to get there:
Setting hard caps on greenhouse gases to be used in an emissions cap and trade system under development by five Western U.S. states and BC.
Requiring all provincial entities, including the power utility BC Hydro, to be carbon neutral by 2010. Government agencies must purchase carbon offsets at $25 per ton of CO2 released or otherwise find a way to make their travel carbon neutral starting this year. The offsets cash will fund projects in B.C. that enhance energy efficiency, generate renewable energy or reforestation.
Building all new government buildings to green-building certification equivalent to at least Gold level LEED certification.
Phasing in California’s strict tailpipe emission standards (still stymied by auto industry litigants in the U.S.) by 2016 and adopting California’s low carbon fuel standards.
Spending more on public transit.
“I could barely believe my ears,” is what one climate activist here in Victoria told me. Journalists like me will be busy tracking to see if Campbell and crew actually deliver on all this. But I’d say hope springs a bit more eternally this week thanks to his detailed promises.