Posted by: jmtoriel | November 29, 2011

While our leaders stall, we can take action on Climate Change in B.C.

Here are some ways I see British Columbians positioned well to take positive climate action:

Our leaders are too busy clearing debtloads obtained in an era of growth and focussed on massively subsidized exploitation of resources in fossil fuel-based industries (like the tarsands) to realize and acknowledge the additional expense inaction on climate legislation will have in the future. The lack of leadership is most discouraging and irresponsible… especially given the scientific clarity on the issue.

Realizing that there are no single silver bullets out there, and the apparant inability to rely on robust international binding treaties from UN COP 17 Conference talks in Durban this week, we can only be empowered by the limited responsible options we have available to us at the local level. A realistic assumption is that the vast majority of individuals thriving/surviving under the status quo will not make any major lifestyle changes without lifting barriers and providing incentives. However, we should not overlook some very critical factors that put BC in a favourable position to become a global leader in reducing global GHG emissions:

– BC has a relatively moderate, temperate climate whose population lives predominantly in low, coastal areas which will be significantly impacted by rising sea levels and increased storm activity. High tides and storms already threaten communities near dykes in Delta (See case study). the interior is already increasingly affected by forest fires and beetle kill), so there is further motivation to do something about what will impact ourselves and the following generations.

– As nearly 85% of BC’s population is urban, and approximately 93% of our energy is sourced from renewable sources with a mandate to be carbon neutral by 2016, we must focus on reducing the sector that makes up the largest segment of our emissions: transportation (36% of all GHG emissions in BC using LiveSmart BC data from 2008). So, household, municipal and regional actions can produce real reductions in GHG emissions — a luxury many other jurisdictions cannot provide with an over-reliance to coal generation and less densely populated areas.

– At the per hosehold level, cars & trucks also make up the largest portion of GHG emissions at over 45%. A family that walks, bikes or carpools more often, takes public tansit and/or uses a vehicle that does not rely heavily on burning fossil fuels (gas, diesel or even natural gas) will have the most impact in reducing GHG emissions. Despite living in a car-dominated culture, there has been a marginal increase in use of cleaner modes of transportation, but not enough to deflect the rising emissions in the production of oil in the tarsands and natural gas in notheastern BC. This makes taking advantage of newly announced provincial incentives (available Dec 1) for scrapping older vehicles and purchasing battery electric vehicles (EVs without tailpipes or plug-in hybrids) even more attractive. Given an anticipated 20,000 plug-in electric vehicles to be on the road by 2020 in Metro Vancouver, or approx. 1% of registered vehicles,

– We have the ability to prevent the expansion of tar sands extraction in neighbouring Alberta by preventing the building of new pipelines (Enbridge Gateway) and increased use of existing pipelines (Kinder Morgan) which have higher risks to negative outcomes that will affect BCers outside of the realm of climate change.Image


  1. B.C. alone will not be able to stop the expansion of the tar sands, but we have the ability to reduce our daily reliance on fossil fuels — and no reduction is more significant than the transportation sector.

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