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7.6 Provincial Summary: British Columbia

Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada

The purpose of the following provincial summaries is to provide a snap-shot of current emissions profiles by activity, emissions trends over the past two decades, and key economy-wide and sector-specific emissions reduction policies (both proposed and existing). It is not a comprehensive account of all provincial policies and measures.

Emissions profile

In 2009 British Columbia (BC) emitted 63.8 Mt Co2e, a 28% increase in emissions since 1990.88 A breakdown of 2009 emission by source is provided in Figure 27.

Economy-wide measures

Chief among BC’s emission reduction measures is the BC Carbon Tax, implemented in 2008 as a revenue-neutral carbon tax on fossil fuels.y The tax was introduced at $10/tonne CO2e, and rises annually by $5 to reach $30/tonne by 2012. Revenues from the tax are recycled through tax reductions, credits or dividends with special provisions for low-income families.

BC has committed to make its government carbon neutral (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3). The province also sees potential in generating alternative energy and forest-based offsets to support global emission-reduction efforts.

Emission reductions measures by source

BC has implemented four main initiatives targeting transportation emissions. First, renewable fuels standards on diesel and gasoline have been put in place.89 Second, in 2008, the province implemented a standard of 10% reduction in average carbon intensity of transportation fuels by 2020. Third, tailpipe emission standards exist to decrease GHG emissions. By 2016 the adoption of tailpipe emissions standards is expected to eliminate close to 1 Mt of GHGs annually and promote the development of more fuel-efficient vehicles. Fourth, there are public awareness campaigns and regulations for vehicle idling.

Measures to address stationary energy emissions are also in place. Within the electricity and heat generation sub-sector, emissions are only 1.2 Mt CO2e due to the province’s reliance on hydroelectricity.90 The Clean Energy Act (2010) established a renewable energy requirement of a minimum of 93% total electricity generation.91 As outlined in the BC Energy Plan, all new electricity generation projects were required to have zero net GHG emissions as of 2007. Existing thermal power plants are required to have zero net GHG emissions by 2016.92

Residential emissions are stable and relatively low due to the moderate climate in the Vancouver area where the largest population lives. The province has implemented various energy standards and conservation and efficiency plans that target the residential and commercial building sector. In 2008, BC put in place its Green Building Code that requires residential and commercial buildings to meet specific energy and water certification standards.

Fossil fuel production and refining accounts for 6.7 Mt of GHG emissions and stems mostly from natural gas production and processing.93 BC set a target to reduce flaring of natural gas by 50% by 2011 – success can be assessed once 2011 data is available. Due to the small number and large size of natural gas plants in the province, CCS from a few key locations could yield significant reductions. The Fort Nelson processing plant could capture 1.3-1.6 Mt of CO2 per year through CCS technology.94

Waste disposal in BC accounted for 3.9 Mt CO2e in 2009.95 In 2009, the province put in place landfill gas regulations that ensure that landfills producing more than 1000 tonnes of methane annually have landfill gas management facilities installed and operational in capturing and combusting methane emissions.96

Provincial evaluation of emissions reduction measures

BC releases a bi-annual GHG Inventory Report using data from the NIR. The most recent inventory was released in 2010 detailing the province’s 2008 GHG emissions. The Ministry of the Environment applies a quality assurance/quality control process to ensure that data presented is accurate and representative.97

BC has a reporting regulation that requires facilities emitting 10,000 tonnes or more of GHGs to report those emissions to the Ministry of the Environment.98 This information is compiled in a provincial emissions inventory and used to support the development and implementation of climate action policies and programs such as the cap and trade program.

In addition to mandatory reporting requirements, voluntary emissions tracking and reporting can be done through the province’s Community Energy and Emissions Inventory (CEEI).99

Inter-jurisdictional measures

In 2009, BC approved the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Cap and Trade) Act in support of its plans to implement a cap and trade system under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) (see Chapter 3).100

In 2010, BC signed an Agreement in Principle on efforts to address climate change with the federal government to avoid regulatory overlap.101


[y] Information included in this appendix is sourced from Government of British Columbia 2008 unless otherwise indicated.

[86] Government of British Columbia 2010

[87] Environment Canada 2011b

[88] Environment Canada 2011b

[89] British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines 2012

[90] Environment Canada 2011b

[91] Government of British Columbia 2010

[92] Government of British Columbia ND

[93] Environment Canada 2011b

[94] Natural Resources Canada 2011

[95] Environment Canada 2011b

[96] British Columbia Ministry of Environment 2011

[97] British Columbia Ministry of Environment 2010

[98] British Columbia Ministry of Environment NDa

[99] British Columbia Ministry of Environment NDb

[100] British Columbia Ministry of Environment NDa

[101] Government of British Columbia 2010