Four of North America’s regional leaders in the fight against climate change, including British Columbia, are reinforcing the important leadership role subnational governments have in promoting climate action.
In a joint statement released today during the United Nations COP 20 climate change conference in Lima, Peru, B.C., California, Ontario and Quebec outlined the steps they are taking individually and collectively to address local and global greenhouse gas emissions.
“The science shows that climate change is occurring and we need to act now,” said B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak. “B.C., California, Ontario and Quebec are already undertaking climate action, and we recognize the best way forward is to work together. I hope our co-operation sets an example for other jurisdictions to follow as the nations of the world work toward achieving a comprehensive climate agreement at COP 21 in Paris in 2015.”
Polak is in Lima attending COP 20 from Dec. 6-11 to strengthen multilateral collaboration on climate and highlight B.C.’s achievements as a blueprint for policy makers looking for proven climate solutions that protect the environment while growing the economy.
Follow Polak’s Lima COP 20 activities at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/main/cop20/
To learn more about Lima COP 20, visit: http://unfccc.int/meetings/lima_dec_2014/meeting/8141.php
Visit the B.C. Climate Action Secretariat’s website at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Environment
Joint statement on climate change issued by California, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia
As the world prepares for this year’s international climate negotiations (COP20) in Lima, Peru, subnational governments, including California, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia are demonstrating how their ongoing efforts can help encourage ambitious climate action on the global stage.
California, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia are working together to move global climate commitment forward, recognizing the world faces two critical problems in the decades ahead - a changing climate due to global warming and the economic impact of climate change. Our jurisdictions are also demonstrating that these are problems with solutions that, when acted on, will bring great opportunity.
Virtually all scientific research has concluded that climate change is occurring, faster than anticipated a decade ago, and that immediate steps are needed to adapt to this change. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforced this view recently, indicating global temperatures will likely rise beyond the threshold of danger - 2 degrees Celsius - if left unchecked. The International Energy Agency has indicated that if we continue pursuing a business as usual model for greenhouse gas emissions, we will likely exceed 4 degrees Celsius warming, leading to irreparable and irreversible damage, including a sea level change.
As national and sub-national jurisdictions around the world begin adopting new policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, jurisdictions that choose not to lead and collaborate with other regions will find themselves missing out on new opportunities to create jobs, improve productivity and create a new low carbon economy.
California, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia are among many regional leaders that recognize the importance and immediacy of reducing greenhouse gasses. We understand that by working together, we can achieve greater success as we seize the opportunities of creating a new low carbon economy and new high value jobs.
In Ontario, climate change has already become a reality with insurance pay-outs totalling $3.2 billion in 2013 as a result of claims for extreme events - the highest insured loss in Canadian history. Ontario recognizes the imperative to act and has taken great strides by investing in clean technologies, including wind and solar. The province also ended all coal-fired electricity generation in 2014 - the single biggest greenhouse gas reduction initiative in North America. Next year, Ontario will release a comprehensive action plan to reduce emissions.
Québec has made the fight against climate change a top priority for several years now. It is implementing its 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan, which calls for 20% GHG emission reductions compared to 1990 levels by 2020 and contains detailed mitigation and adaptation measures. At the heart of this plan is a cap-and-trade system for GHG emission allowances that Québec has linked with a similar system in California on January 1st, 2014.
California is making steady progress toward meeting the goals of its groundbreaking climate change solutions law, which sets a target of reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. California has a variety of strategies, including ramping up renewable energy to account for a third of total power generation and energy-saving appliance and building standards, all within an economy-wide carbon market.
British Columbia achieved its first interim target of a 6% emissions reduction below 2007 levels by 2012. Underpinning British Columbia’s suite of leading climate policies is its broad-based revenue-neutral carbon tax. In the six years since the tax was implemented, independent research shows fuel use in British Columbia is down 16% while the province’s GDP and population have grown. With natural gas being an important transition fuel, and recognized as part of a global climate solution, British Columbia will not only supply growing markets with this cleanest-burning fossil fuel but will do so from the world’s cleanest liquefied natural gas facilities.
Collective Action to Fight Climate Change
California, Ontario, Québec and British Columbia all have 2020 targets to reduce GHG emissions and have taken strong actions to fight climate change, but we need to do more and we need to act now.
Global leaders are collaborating and preparing for an international agreement on climate change at the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris, France.
To help catalyze and direct our efforts, we will collaborate on mid-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions to maintain momentum toward 2050 targets. This commitment reflects a common understanding of the climate challenge ahead and a collective will to take action and establish these targets prior to the 2015 Conference of the Parties.
As North American leaders, we are committed to fighting climate change and creating a legacy of a stronger, healthier planet for future generations.
Ministry of Environment