BC`s new premier says development of a new energy economy paramount



Christy Clark, British Columbia's new Premier has wasted little time affirming her plan to build the province's leadership in developing a new energy economy.

In an open letter to British Columbians, Clark addressed two lingering questions left unanswered after her ascenion to the top of the BC Liberal party.  The first question was whether or not to continue with the provincial carbon tax.

BC's carbon tax, which places a price on each tonne of greenhouse gas emitted, has been lauded by environmentalists and economists across the globe as one of the most progressive climate change policies in the world.  Nevertheless, it has received mixed reviews from British Columbians, and has transformed into a major electoral issue for the province.

In her letter, Clark says she will maintain the course laid out by the carbon tax.  'BC is on the leading edge of the new, green economy, a decision that was reinforced by the electorate in the 2009 election when it made a choice to elect a government committed to moving ahead with courageous climate change policies.'  According to Clark, the carbon tax to date has cut more taxes than it has collected.

Making no argument about the dangerous effects climate change is wreaking on the environment, Clark said she will continue to work ardently with other states and provinces to develop more leading-edge policies to reduce carbon emissions.

'As we go forward, one thing is for certain: we will work to achieve our targets to reduce carbon emissions and continue to be a leader in North America on the green economy.'  This pledge seemingly addresses the question of whether, under her leadership, the province would continue to morph its economic foundations around sustainable business.

BC has set targets to reduce its emissions by 33% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.  No economy exists in a vacuum, and in order for British Columbia to transition into a green economy, cooperation with other provinces and states will be necessary.   Therefore, Clark has promised to help establish the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) -- a plan developed by an independent group of Canadian provinces and American states to reduce emissions, while spurring economic growth.

The backbone of the WCI is the creation of a regional cap-and-trade system between partner jurisdictions.  The WCI is scheduled to come into creation in 2012; as of yet none of the partners have passed the enabling legislation.

Despite the supportive tone of Clark's open letter for clean energy technologies, the question of whether she will follow through on this mandate is still far from answered.  First, since she was not an elected member of the legislative assembly, she must win a by-election before she can truly step into her role as the province's Premier.

Second, she must follow the rhetoric with action.  Considering the myriad of special interests, this is a tall order; and one which could be further accentuated by the fact her top transition team advisor, Gwyn Morgan, has been a long-time critic of climate legislation.

Morgan, the former CEO of oil and gas giant EnCana, supported a campaign that slammed former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion's carbon tax plan in the 2008 federal election.  Additionally, Morgan, who has questioned the science behind anthropogenic global warming, said the Kyoto Protocol would do nothing to improve the environment and could be potentially economically devestating to Canada.

While there are still many unknowns, a cadre of green business leaders, such as John Sheridan CEO of Ballard Power systems, applauded the direction the Premier aims to follow.  Sheridan says, 'British Columbians have everything to gain from a strong green economy.  We will continue to benefit in the form of jobs, investment, revitalized communities, and a more liveable and sustainable province.'

Nathanael Baker is the Managing Editor of EnergyBoom.  He has researched and reported on the issues of renewable energy, sustainability, and climate change for over two years.  He has provided research to the New York Times and The Economist, as well as being published on different media outlets including, The Energy Collective.

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