100% electric vehicles by 2035, carbon tax hike in BC's revised climate plan

Oct 25 2021, 10:57 pm

The provincial government has increased certain targets and introduced new measures in a bid to deliver a more ambitious plan to help tackle climate change in British Columbia.

Under the so-called “CleanBC Roadmap to 2030” plan, the provincial government’s revised climate action strategy calls for transitioning BC to 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. This provincial target was previously legislated for 2040, but the revision would align with the federal government’s national target for 2035.

The original zero-emission vehicle sales targets was 10% by 2025, but as of last year BC already saw electric-battery vehicle models accounting for 9.4% of all new sales. Ahead of 2035, the new interim targets have been set at 26% by 2026 and 90% by 2030.

“Here in BC, the threat of climate change is no longer decades or even years away. The impacts are all around us, from devastating wildfires to intense heat waves and droughts,” said Premier John Horgan in a statement.

“The scale of the climate emergency demands that we act with even greater urgency than ever before. By bringing people and businesses together, we can rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity to build a stronger, more resilient BC for everyone. That’s what this plan is all about.”

The provincial government will rollout various new and expanded strategies to help support the zero-emission vehicle target, including having at least 10,000 public electric vehicle charging stations by 2030.

BC will now also develop new transitionary zero-emission vehicle targets for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, as the costs for electric commercial vehicles still remains high compared to the recent advancements for personal vehicles.

For the modal shift in transportation, the provincial government is now aiming to have public transit and active transportation — walking and cycling — account for a combined modal share of 30% by 2030, 40% by 2040, and 50% by 2050.

This also amounts to a goal of reducing the distances travelled in personal light-duty vehicles by 25% by 2030, compared to 2020.

Transportation currently accounts for 40% of BC’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

For future building construction, through a change in the BC Building Code, there will be new requirements to make all new buildings zero-carbon by 2030, such as through electrification, the use of renewable natural gas, or connections to low-carbon energy district systems. Furthermore, after 2030, all new space and water heating equipment sold and installed in BC will need to be at least 100% efficient.

Buildings currently account for 10% of BC’s emissions, largely from the energy used for heating and producing hot water.

More broader policy shifts include hiking BC’s carbon tax starting in 2023, so that it meets or exceeds the federal government’s carbon price requirements.

BC will also look to eliminate industrial methane emissions by 2035, and reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector by 75% by 2030, compared to 2014. Currently, the oil and gas sector is responsible for 20% of BC’s total emissions and 50% of industrial emissions.

A comprehensive review will be performed on the province’s oil and gas royalty system to “ensure they support our goals for economic development, environmental protection, and a fair return on the resources” for the public. This is being conducted with an aim to reduce emissions from oil and gas by between 33% and 38% by 2030, compared to 2007. The provincial government will release its findings in February 2022.

“By working with all sectors, we can see clearly where we are making progress and where new thinking and resources are required,” said George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “The CleanBC Roadmap puts greater focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels faster and adopting clean energy solutions.”

BC’s revised strategy was unveiled just ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow next month.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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