Wow. Just wow.
The B.C. government is trying to out-green California with a sweeping strategy unveiled Tuesday to fight global warming by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions from everything from cars and industry to the daily energy consumption of ordinary people.
As far as I can tell, Campbell’s government looked at each of the recent advances in California’s climate policy—the emission goals, the broad authority to develop a cap and trade system, the vehicle emission standards, policies on electric power—and tried to take each one a step further.
Take, for example, the issue of coal-fired power plants. California has vowed that new electricity sources must be at least as climate-friendly as the most efficent natural gas generators—a standard that no coal plant can now meet. In effect, California is saying no to new coal-fired power plants—a major step in a continent awash in cheap coal.
But BC leaves that in the dust. According to the new plan, “all new and existing electricity produced in B.C. will be required to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.” That’s right: all electricity, net zero emissions. Now, given BC’s current electricity generation portfolio (mostly hydroelectric), this isn’t a huge stretch; but it probably puts the kibosh on two proposed coal-fired power projects in the province. Overall, the policy winds up being a darnsight more ambitious than California’s policy, which has laxer standards, and which only applies to new power sources, not existing ones as well.
And boy, what a difference from Washington State’s “let’s study the heck out of this before we act” approach. In Campbell’s words, BC’s policy “leaves no room for procrastination.” But the conventional wisdom in Washington—expressed pretty clearly in this Seattle Times editorial—is that hesitation is the height of prudence.
Now, obviously, I’m not in favor of rushing willy-nilly into things before they’re thought through. But by calling delay “insightful,” the Times is calling the recent progress in the rest of the west coast, in a nutshell, ill-considered. To which I’d respond—no, at this point, failing to seize the political momentum to tackle one of the globe’s most pressing problems isn’t at all insightful. In fact, it’s a bit cowardly.
(See also Gordon Price’s take on all this, plus a less rosy view from Marc Lee.)
I am dubious of the Throne speech’s claims.For one thing, “sequestration” isn’t defined. Gordy could pay some corrupt dictator in some third-world country to promise to plant more trees, under one loose definition of “sequestration.”It’s all very sketchy and rushed feeling, as though it’s insincere public posturing. After all, no matter what Gordy says today, there’s always TILMA to contend with.If you haven’t heard of TILMA, it’s to BC what Measure 37 was to Oregon—in effect, a “harmonization” of regulations between BC and Alberta. But unlike Measure 37, it was made law without any public or legislative input. At least the citizens of Oregon got suckered by an expensive, big-business initiative campaign, instead of quietly ignored, as with TILMA!I imagine that once TILMA quietly goes into effect on (you ready for this?) April Fools Day, the two proposed coal-fired power plants will be revived, with the BC government saying, “Sorry, our hands are tied by this here piece of paper!”So I’m rather cynical about this rushed, new-found greenness.