On May 12, 2015, British Columbia (BC) Premier Christy Clark introduced a Climate Leadership Team that has been tasked with developing a Climate Leadership Plan, which will update and build on the province’s current Climate Action Plan. Chaired by Mike Bernier, Member of the BC Legislative Assembly, the Climate Leadership Team consists of 23 members who are drawn from a diverse range of academic, community, business, environmental, and Aboriginal groups. These groups include Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, several municipalities, the Council of Forest Industries, BC LNG Alliance, Clean Energy Canada, the Pembina Institute and chiefs from three Aboriginal groups, among others.

The Climate Leadership Team’s mandate is to provide advice and recommendations on:

  • how to maintain BC’s climate leadership;
  • updates to the current 2008 Climate Action Plan, as well as new programs and policies required to meet BC’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets while maintaining strong economic growth and successfully implementing the BC Jobs Plan, including the liquefied natural gas (LNG) strategy;
  • actions to achieve GHG reductions required across the industrial sector, transportation sector and built environment;
  • how to further the province’s government-to-government relationships with Aboriginal groups while constructively finding climate solutions; and
  • how to further the province’s collaboration with local governments within the context of mutually-beneficial climate actions.

This mandate will be carried out in accordance with the following timeline:

  • July 2015 – a draft framework for the Climate Leadership Plan will be produced, followed by a 30-day public consultation period on the resulting discussion paper.
  • October 2015 – recommendations from the Climate Leadership Team will be presented to government.
  • December 2015 – a draft Climate Leadership Plan will be prepared, followed by a 30-day public consultation period.
  • March 2016 – the final Climate Leadership Plan will be released publicly.

The announcement follows correspondence sent in April 2015 by federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq to her BC counterpart, Mary Polak. The letter from Minister Aglukkaq, which requested information to enable Canada to meet certain international reporting obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, indicates that BC is not on track to meet its legislated target for reducing GHG emissions by at least 33% below 2007 levels by 2020 (as required under the provincial Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act). According to the Canada Emissions Trend 2014 report prepared by Environment Canada, BC’s GHG emissions are projected to increase 11% by 2020 (from 2005 levels).

The announcement of the Climate Leadership Team also comes as BC looks to reassert its leadership role on the climate change file. While the province met its 2012 interim GHG reduction target of 6% below 2007 levels, it has not undertaken any significant new climate change policy initiatives in recent years. The establishment of the Climate Leadership Team is an acknowledgement of the need for greater climate change-related action to enable BC to meet its emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2050, particularly in light of a growing economy and the potential opportunities presented by the LNG sector.