The B.C. government has revealed its long-term climate plan that will require every new car sold in the province to be a zero-emission vehicle by 2040, and all new buildings to be net-zero energy ready by 2032.

The plan, called CleanBC was introduced by Premier John Horgan and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in Vancouver, along with Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall. The plan is set to move revenue from the carbon tax into incentives for the province’s biggest industries to transition to cleaner operations.

“The low-carbon economy we build together will bring opportunities and jobs throughout the province, so people can live and work with greater security in the communities they call home,” Premier John Horgan said.

“By moving to clean, renewable energy – like our abundant supply of B.C. electricity – we can power our growing economy and make life better and more affordable for British Columbians.”

The plan is part of the province’s legislated climate targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, based on 2007 levels. The target by 2040 is 60 per cent and 80 per cent by 2050.

“With CleanBC, British Columbia is rising to the challenge of climate change,” Horgan said.

“Every year, we’re seeing the unprecedented wildfires and floods that hurt so many people, communities and businesses. We need to begin changing how we live, work and commute to put B.C. on a cleaner, more sustainable path.”

Under the plan, 30 per cent of all sales of new light-duty cars and trucks are expected to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030. This will go up to 100 per cent by 2040.

By 2032, all new buildings will have to be net-energy ready, which means they would need to generate on-site energy to power their own function. The government plans to increase funding for renovations and energy retrofits to existing homes and offices, including $400 million to support retrofits and upgrades for B.C.’s stock of publicly funded housing.

The government also plans to help the province reduce 95 per cent of organic waste by diverting it from landfills and turning it into other products.

Horgan says the challenges of climate change, including wildfires and floods, mean the province must change how people live, work and commute by moving away from burning fossil fuels.

“Every year, we’re seeing the unprecedented wildfires and floods that hurt so many people, communities and businesses,” Horgan said. “We need to begin changing how we live, work and commute to put B.C. on a cleaner, more sustainable path.”

When LNG Canada said in October it was proceeding with its plan to operate a $40 billion export terminal at Kitimat, Horgan said the government would still meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The plan says one of the conditions for liquefied natural gas development is that it fits in the climate commitments, noting that the LNG Canada project could add to 3.45 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the province’s total.

“More reductions from LNG’s climate impact will be achieved through investments in electrification of upstream oil and gas production so extraction and processing are powered by electricity, instead of burning fossil fuels,” it says.

Weaver’s party has an agreement that supports the province’s minority NDP government and he shared the stage with Horgan in making the announcement.

“I look forward to working with government, business and other stakeholders to action this plan, so that British Columbians can count on a bright future where all our communities enjoy a thriving economy and a high quality of life for generations to come,” he said in a news release issued by the provincial government.

Horgan’s government already boosted the carbon tax in this year’s budget to $35 per tonne and will increase that by $5 a year until 2021.

The switch to cleaner energy means increased biofuel consumption and a shift to hydro-generated electricity.

The government’s plan says by 2030, its new policies would require an additional 4,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity over the current demand.

“This is equivalent to increasing BC Hydro’s current system-wide capacity by about eight per cent, or about the demand of the city of Vancouver,” the plan says. The added demand can be met by existing and planned projects, it says.

Auditor general Carol Bellringer released a report on Wednesday that said Hydro’s generating facilities are running at near capacity and some of them are more than 85 years old. Her audit didn’t cover the $10.7 billion Site C dam project.

The Site C dam on the Peace River is under construction in northeast B.C. and not slated for completion until 2024.

Here are some of the other goals in the climate plan:

– The strategy will require an additional 4,000 gigawatt hours of electricity over current demand, equal to increasing BC Hydro’s current system-wide capacity by about eight per cent, or about the demand by consumers in Vancouver.

– By 2032, new buildings will be 80 per cent more efficient than homes built today. Emission from buildings will drop by 40 per cent, the government says.

– Fossil fuel use for transportation will drop by 20 per cent by 2030, spurred by 30 per cent of sales of new light-duty cars and trucks being zero-emission vehicles.

– By 2025, methane emissions from the natural gas sector will drop by 45 per cent.

– Ninety-five per cent of organic waste from agriculture, industry and municipalities will be diverted from landfills and turned into other products by 2030.

– Seventy-five per cent of landfill methane will be captured by 2030.

– The legislated target for 2030 is a reduction of 25.4 megatonnes of greenhouse gas from the 2007 baseline.

– The province set new targets for greenhouse gas emissions in May, committing to reductions of 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050.

– B.C.’s price on carbon increased this year to $35 per tonne and will go up $5 per year until 2021 in an effort to encourage lower emission alternatives.

With files from CBC and The Canadian Press

CHEK News