VICTORIA - Since the introduction of our Climate Action Plan in 2008, British Columbia has been recognized as a world leader in the fight against climate change.
That doesn't mean we should rest on our laurels - so we're taking the next steps forward, building on past and present success.
Last week, Environment Minister Mary Polak and I announced Climate Action Plan 2.0. Mike Bernier, Parliamentary Secretary for Energy Literacy and the Environment, will chair the team. With his impressive climate credentials - during his time as mayor, Dawson Creek became a leader in clean energy and climate action - Mike is the right person for the job.
The first step will be the formation of a new Climate Leadership Team, consisting of leaders from B.C. businesses, First Nations, academia, and the environmental sector. The Climate Leadership Team will provide advice and recommendations to government as we develop Climate Action Plan 2.0.
Our climate actions led to tangible, long-term success in reducing B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, we announced that we had reached our first GHG emissions reduction target of 6% below 2007 levels by 2012.
At the centre of our plan is North America's first and most comprehensive carbon tax. Thanks in large part to our carbon tax, our strong, diverse economy is growing, emissions are falling, and - because the carbon tax is revenue neutral - we've cut taxes.
We don't always appreciate the international recognition our climate leadership receives, but there's increasing global recognition not only that carbon pricing is necessary to reduce GHG emissions, but that B.C.'s broad-based, revenue-neutral carbon tax is a successful model to follow. Just last week, I was invited to the World Bank-International Monetary Fund spring meetings in Washington, D.C. to speak about our carbon tax - the first time a Canadian premier has been invited to speak at the forum.
Last December, Minister Polak represented B.C. at the United Nations climate change conference in Lima Peru, meeting people from all over the world who wanted to know more about our carbon tax.
This year, Mike Bernier spoke at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston at the invitation of Massachusetts legislators, who are considering a carbon tax of their own. He also presented our carbon tax success story to Canada's premiers when he represented B.C. at last week's First Ministers' climate summit in Quebec City.
Whether at the national or subnational level, B.C. continues to encourage governments to take action to combat climate change - to meet or beat our carbon tax. There are reasons to be encouraged. Recently, both Oregon and Washington have committed to carbon pricing through the Pacific Coast Collaborative, and have expressed keen interest in learning more about our Climate Action Plan and carbon tax as they prepare plans of their own.
British Columbia remains committed to achieving our legislated GHG reduction targets of 33% below 2007 levels by 2020, and 80% below by 2050, and Climate Action Plan 2.0 will help us get there - and keep the eyes of the world squarely on B.C.
Office of the Premier