Business leaders urge B.C. to stay the course on climate initiative



Last week, over 150 business, academic and NGO leaders sent a letter to B.C. Premier Christy Clark supporting the Provincial Government's leadership role in the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).

The letter, prompted in part by news that the B.C. government might be softening its position on carbon pricing, cap and trade and its role in the WCI, urged the Premier to make the clean energy economy a central part of the government's effort to create jobs and help British Columbian families.
The letter cited research by the Globe Foundation that indicated the clean energy economy 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.

The leaders argued that B.C. has built a strong foundation to achieve higher gains and the leadership it has demonstrated in spurring investment in clean energy has had a positive influence on the Canadian, continental and global debate on how to build a clean energy economy.

'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,' the letter states.
'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' it notes.
Particular mention was made of B.C.'s carbon tax, the only one of its kind in North America.

Building on Premier Clark's stated goal to help protect families, the business leader letter notes that as global oil prices rise, developing a robust clean energy sector in B.C. would help protect families by reducing their dependence on fossil fuels, and giving them real alternatives such as better public transit and neigbourhood heating systems.
The 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.

The same message was delivered by other experts in the field.
Former B.C. Deputy Minister Moura Quayle, now of UBC's Sauder School of Business, and John Richards, from the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University, wrote in a subsequent Vancouver Sun article (April 26, 2011) that B.C. needs to take the green economy to the next level.

Citing B.C.'s pioneering carbon tax, they note this policy has brought unexpected benefits to the people of this province. Using figures from a recent column by economist Mark Jaccard, they note the carbon tax has paid back to British Columbians $200 million more than it has taken away.
Furthermore, B.C.'s carbon-pricing policy has helped one of the largest clusters of clean-tech companies in the world to expand. Many of these companies did not exist 10 years ago, they wrote, and these are knowledge-based jobs that pay well above the provincial average.

They too argue British Columbia's economic advantages have been bolstered by the province's leadership in the Western Climate Initiative on track to start early next year.
'Through our cooperation with California, Quebec, and others, British Columbia is at the leading edge of the green economy in North America,' they state.

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