Stand Up for the Western Climate Leadership Agreement
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But earlier this week, news broke that Premier Christy Clark’s new cabinet in Victoria is considering backing away from its leadership on a key regional agreement to price global warming pollution. We can't allow this to happen. The rest of Canada, and key players in the agreement like California, are looking to us to show backbone on this important policy that creates good green jobs and bolsters the green economy.
British Columbia currently boasts some of the most progressive energy and climate policies in North America. Our carbon tax, combined with our commitment to the Western Climate Initiative or WCI—a “cap-and-trade” program set to launch early next year—are already helping create businesses that build wind turbines, solar panels, biofuels systems, clean transportation technologies, and smart grid solutions.
These clean-tech companies are creating thousands of well-paying jobs in professions like architecture and engineering, and in skilled trades such as electrical, computer-aided-design, construction, and more. It is a rapidly growing sector that creates opportunities and green careers for young people and young families, creates healthy communities, and helps our province prosper without harming the environment.
B.C. is in this agreement with California and a few other states and provinces. California survived a petroleum-funded attack on its WCI program last fall. And it is under attack here as well from various quarters. A recent Vancouver Sun editorial called the initiative “a time bomb that, if detonated, will blow up the Canadian economy and impoverish us all.”
Dear Premier Clark,
Thank you for the leadership race commitments you made to aggressively establish British Columbia as a leader in clean energy. We appreciated the connection you made between investments in clean energy and the ability to create jobs throughout the province.
We write to urge you to follow-through on those commitments, and give the clean energy economy a central role in your efforts to create jobs and help British Columbian families. According to the Globe Foundation, clean energy contributed $15.3 billion to B.C.’s GDP (10.2% of the total) and 166,000 jobs (7.2% of the total) in 2008. Those numbers are significant today, and they could double in the next decade.
B.C. has already built a strong foundation to achieve higher gains. The province has been rightly applauded for the leadership it has demonstrated by spurring investment in clean energy. We have punched above our weight and helped to positively influence the Canadian, continental and global debate on how to build a clean energy economy.
This is particularly true for the implementation of B.C.’s carbon tax and being one of the leading partners in the Western Climate Initiative. Continued progress presents opportunity, and limits risk, on a number of fronts:
We can grow the market for B.C.’s clean energy companies
By tipping the economic scales in favour of clean energy, and helping our neighbours do the same, B.C. can help open domestic and export markets for the province’s entrepreneurs. Whether it’s a wind farm being built in Dawson Creek, or cutting-edge fuel cell engines and biomass gasification technologies being sold to the world, those businesses bring investment to B.C. and employ British Columbians.
We can set the rules of the clean energy economy
The rules are set by the people that play the game first. We know there will be constraints on carbon in the near future, so B.C. needs to be involved in setting those constraints and demonstrating their potential. Doing so puts us in the driver’s seat to ensure the rules account for B.C.’s interests, which will give our economy a competitive advantage. Furthermore, just by setting the rules and participating, we give other jurisdictions the confidence to do the same. This will grow the size of the clean energy economy and increase the range and scale of opportunities available.
We can help families get ahead in a future where energy is going to cost more
As global oil prices rise, developing a robust clean energy sector in B.C. helps protect families by reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, and giving them real alternatives such as better public transit and neigbourhood heating systems. The same shift away from fossil fuels also benefits families by keeping energy prices lower than in other jurisdictions, providing long-term employment throughout the province, and building healthier more vibrant communities.
We can protect B.C.’s natural beauty for our children and grand children
If we fail to effectively build a clean energy economy, we will fail to effectively show leadership on climate change. If climate change persists, the B.C. we know and love will be dramatically different for our children and grand children. We’ve already seen the devastation that pine beetles can cause on our forests and the way storms can gut our parks. If the Fraser River gets much warmer, salmon won’t survive. B.C. can’t stop these threats on our own, but we can be a positive influence in finding local and global solutions.
We look forward to working with your government to secure the gains we have made in recent years and affirm B.C.’s position in the clean energy economy.