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Reducing emissions for a cleaner future for British Columbians

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:05 PDT, Thu March 28, 2024

The province will implement a backstop to the federal cap on emissions from the oil and gas sector to support a clean-energy future for British Columbians.

This is a key measure within the New Energy Action Framework, as people in British Columbia face extreme weather incidents caused by climate change, including sustained droughts, unprecedented wildfires and devastating floods.

“At a time when British Columbians are seeing first-hand the threat of climate change, including extremely low snowpack and the worst forest fire season on record, our government knows people expect us to keep our climate commitments by building a strong and cleaner economy,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “The oil and gas sector emissions cap is a critical and necessary tool to fight pollution and meet our emission reduction targets. Today’s framework outlines our clear plan and timelines to ensure that oil and gas companies use some of their profits to reduce their climate-harming emissions in a predictable and accountable way.”

The province is in discussions with the federal government to align the federal cap with B.C.’s specific goals and commitments, including meeting B.C.’s sectoral greenhouse-gas-emission-reduction targets and to avoid regulatory duplication and administrative burden for the oil and gas sector.

B.C. will introduce regulatory measures in 2025, to take effect in 2026, as a backstop to the federal cap. The backstop is intended to be additive (if needed to ensure B.C. will achieve its sectoral greenhouse gas emissions targets) and not duplicative, and will only apply in the event there are gaps between federal coverage and B.C.’s targets. The backstop regulation will also apply in the event that the federal cap is not implemented or is cancelled.

The B.C. backstop regulation will recognize operations with lower emissions intensity and be reviewed regularly to ensure B.C. is on track to achieve its sectoral greenhouse gas reduction targets. Government will consider various tools for compliance, including: absolute emission reductions; technology applications; verifiable trade-able carbon credits; verifiable carbon offsets; and compliance payments. The purpose of compliance payments is to support further emissions reductions within B.C.

Consultation with First Nations, industry and interested stakeholders took place throughout 2023, and further discussions will happen as the engagement with the federal government and the development of the B.C. regulation take place.

“While some want to see us shut down the entire industry and the good jobs that go with it, others want to rip up B.C.’s climate plan and abandon our pollution reduction targets. We know there is a better way forward,” said Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon Innovation. “By putting in place a cap on emissions—not production—we can provide certainty to industry on the investments needed to ensure it becomes more sustainable and efficient, while also creating new opportunities for people in clean energy and technology.”

Oil and gas operators will continue to have incentives to reduce emissions through the province’s new output-based pricing system and access to the CleanBC Industry Fund to support the operators’ work to transition to clean energy. 

The New Energy Action Framework builds on actions outlined in CleanBC to drive clean economic growth, while helping the province meet its legislated climate targets.

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