Provincial Election Question #10 for Shuswap Candidates …

question mark

… is on Climate Change.

Readers’ questions have been coming in but there’s still room for a few more before the election. If you have a burning question for the candidates, click here for further information to submit it to Aim High. Your questions should be geared to all of the candidates and not just for one of them. 

* Each question is forwarded to the declared candidates almost a week prior to the question actually being posted online here at Aim High. The candidates then email me their responses to be included with the initial question. Readers and the candidates can discuss via the Comment section.

Next week’s question is on Campaign Donations Reform.

This week’s question is:

Personal Belief Question:

Do you personally believe that human activities are a significant cause of increasing climate change?

Party Policy Question:

What comprehensive climate policies does your party propose to respond to climate change? Be specific please. I’m looking for something much more detailed than a generic motherhood statement of needing to achieve “a balance between the economy and the environment”. That is a given for me!

Candidate Responses (in the order received):

Tom Birch (BC Conservatives):

I believe that human activity is creating carbon dioxide and that this is a major cause of global warming. However, I am not a doomsayer. Since 1880 the average world temperature has only gone up by three-quarters of a degree Celsius. In the last 16 years it has not gone up at all. The computer models that the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) have been using to predict that we will rise another 5 or more degrees by 2100 simply have NOT been accurate on any of their predictions to date and are NOT a reliable guide on which to build policy that would significantly impact all global economies.

The IPCC has consistently ignored their own statistics and tried to explain why the data was not normative. Very recently they have admitted to the lack of temperature rise but only because they decided that the ‘missing’ heat was being stored in the ocean depths. This has not been released long enough for any kind of evaluation, reassessment or impact study.

In short, I believe that we have time to address the issue of alternate energy, global warning and climate change. I also believe that the impact of extreme anti-fossil fuel policies could be more detrimental to the human populations on the earth than the impacts of climate change and these policies will actually slow down our pursuit of alternate energy.

Every winter, thousands of elderly people on fixed incomes in the UK die as a direct result of carbon taxes on home heating fuel. They simply cannot afford to eat and heat their homes, so they die from strokes and heart attacks or other illnesses that are exacerbated by living in near freezing conditions in their homes. That is a minor policy compared to many that have been proposed.

We must maintain our existing energy supply until such time as we have a replacement in alternate energy. I believe that the only solution is one in which environmentalists collaborate with industry instead of the confrontational model that we see around us. If we are going to accelerate our move to clean energy sources, we need money to invest in research. That money will only be available if we have strong economies and they rely on stable energy. So in short, alternate energy of tomorrow will not happen without relying on the fossil fuels of today.

The BC Conservative Party will do away the pretend ‘green’ policy like the BC Carbon Tax and Pacific Carbon Trust. These do nothing for the environment. They make our companies less competitive across our border and they steal money from our schools and hospitals, greenwash it and give it to industry for doing what they would have done anyway. These kinds of policies will inoculate us and keep us from ever dealing with real energy advancements.

We will hold all industry to the environmental standards that we have in place.

I will look for opportunities to collaborate with industry. Energy companies that deal in oil are also investing in alternate energy as they know that the days of oil are numbered. Government alone cannot shoulder the burden of creating clean energy. Only a brief look to the USA is required to see their multiple failed attempts in the last decade. In BC, we cannot expect to solve the clean energy issue. We can however contribute to its solution.

Chris George ( Green Party of BC):

I always have trouble when people ask me if I believe in anthropogenic global warming. I believe in it in the sense that I have satisfied myself that the best scientists in the field have done a good job of examining the available evidence, creating hypotheses and making predictions based on them. Some of their predictions have been borne out. Others have not, but have led to new science that is even now increasing our understanding of the natural world. This is a belief in the sense that I have satisfied myself that the science has been done in a systematic and thorough fashion by the best and brightest that the fields of climate science, physics, chemistry, geology, and geography have to offer. I have looked over the actual scientific scepticism that has been offered by the handful of dissenters and while their positions are interesting, it is too soon to see if their ideas will bear fruit. I discount positions that come from economists, politicians, psychologists, medical doctors and bankers. I wouldn’t go to my pharmacist for prognostications about the health of the soil in my garden. I wouldn’t go to my banker for advice about my diet.

I do not believe in the sense of having faith in something unknown or unseen. I believe in it because I have taught myself enough about the basics to follow the main scientific arguments and to form my own opinion.

What comprehensive climate policies does your party propose to respond to climate change? Be specific please. I’m looking for something much more detailed than a generic motherhood statement of needing to achieve “a balance between the economy and the environment”, That is a given for me!

According to the latest observations, we simply do not have time for long range planning around climate change. The costs of adaptation are proving to be higher than the denial camp anticipated. The $200 million dollars that the oil industry has spent on media in the past two decades would have gone far to help mitigate some of the warming we are now experiencing. But that time is past. We are now faced with ever increasing bills for adaptation. In the Shuswap they will come in the form of floods, fires and droughts. We will all be picking up the tab for our imprudence for generations to come. This is why I am running for the office of MLA. Our kids deserve the same opportunities to prosper and the same enjoyment of a healthy environment that my generation were able to enjoy.

Australia just enjoyed a record breaking summer of intense temperature. The United States is entering another year of intense drought. Russia has experienced severe heat and catastrophic wildfires for two years in a row and is facing another. The Arctic ice is breaking up already this year and it started 51 days ahead of last year. Many international scientists are now raising the alarm about methane release from the Arctic Ocean and the tundra, as permafrost is proving to be neither perma nor frosty.

I think that it is time we started talking about serious action to reduce our emissions of CO2. But it is also time to start preparing for the challenges that this global problem is bringing to our local lives.

Here is a listing of all of the Green policy that addresses climate change, in no particular order. We must balance ecological reality, the need for social progress and our desire for a prosperous future for all of us, including those who do not currently have a voice in our politics. It is not an either/or discussion. With hard work and innovation, British Columbia can lead the world in Green technologies and provide an excellent example of what is possible as we move away from a fossil economy and into a better, brighter and Greener future for British Columbia.

Economic Policy in Support of Action on Climate Change

Return to balanced budgets, end corporate welfare, eliminate subsidies to polluting industries and develop fair taxation policies

Invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency that shifts BC to a low-carbon economy

Use financial measures to foster value-added industries

Finance a provincial Green Venture Capital Fund to encourage local green business start-ups and support the creation of green-collar jobs in the green technologies and renewable energy sectors

Encourage restaurants, markets, and grocers to use local produce and livestock to support small and family farms

Reduce our dependence on energy and pesticide intensive agriculture and imported food

Finance research to increase local organic food production

Invest in wild fisheries and large-scale rehabilitation of habitat and spawning rivers

Establish spaces in technical schools to train workers to install solar photo-voltaic systems, solar hot water systems, geo-exchange heating and cooling systems,to conduct general energy audits and perform energy efficiency upgrades

Allocate one percent from the provincial portion of HST/PST to municipal governments for “Green Cities” initiatives for emission reduction programs

Introduce a Buy Green BC campaign that provides consumer incentives to buy made-in-BC green products and services

Provide Small Power Producer (SPPs) Loan Guarantees – interest-free loans for small and mid-sized businesses to install green energy solutions

Energy Policy in Support of Action on Climate Change

Establish Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change

Create a BC Energy Authority (BCEA) to diversify energy sources. BC Hydro and all new power producers will report to BCEA

Create a clear reporting relationship for the BCEA to the Ministry of Energy, Environment and Climate Change

Make BC Transmission Corporation (BCTC) a division of the BCEA

Restore the independence and oversight of the BC Utilities Commission

Institute Regional Resource Management Boards that report to the BCEA for planning and approval of regional energy generation and distribution systems

Require the new BCEA to eliminate current calls for power and to implement Feed-in-Tariffs that will:

o Promote geothermal, solar, ocean and wind power

o Favour local generation projects

o Favour cooperative and public ownership as well as Small Power Producers (SPPs)

Reinstate local oversight over public resources

Include local and regional government on Regional Resource Management Boards

Cancel plans for and consideration of the Site C Dam on the Peace River

Require methane capture and power generation plants at all wastewater and landfill sites

Restore public ownership of the Nechako/Kemano generation system

Phase out all power imports from fossil fuels or GHG emitting sources

Halt consideration of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project (Alberta Tar Sands to Kitimat)

Review the energy corridor through central BC

Reject any expansion of the Kinder-Morgan pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver

Establish a permanent ban on crude oil tankers on the west coast of BC to protect BC’s fisheries, tourism, coastal communities and natural ecosystems

Require that BC’s short and long-term energy needs are fully met before foreign energy sales take place

Prohibit the use of food products other than local food waste for the production of fuels

Transportation Policy in Support of Action on Climate Change

Introduce Location Efficient Mortgages, enabling car-free citizens to afford housing in urban centres

Invest in commuter and light rail in the Fraser Valley, on Vancouver Island and in the interior

Explore the use of distance driven Pay-As-You-Drive (PAYD) insurance to provide cost savings for driving less

Expand the HOV network

Education Policy in Support of Action on Climate Change

Provide training for laid-off workers to get them get back into the workforce by training them for jobs in the green economy

Action on Climate Change

Emission Targets

The Green Party of BC shares the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets identified by the Green Party of Canada:

at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 (47% below 2007)

at least 50% below 1990 levels by 2030 (62% below 2007)

at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2040 (85% below 2007)

Conserving Energy

Implement refundable tax credits for all energy retrofit costs based on before-and-after

EnerGuide or infrared heat tests for residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings

Introduce tax-deductible ‘Green’ loans for home-owner energy retrofit costs

Give a 100% Accelerated Capital Cost

Allowance for all businesses for energy retrofit costs emissions and prescribe GHG remediation

Increase the carbon tax to $50/tonne and make the tax incrementally progressive to help reach emission targets on schedule. In addition:

Tax all GHG emitting industries

Capture the full social global cost of carbon emissions

Exempt British Columbians living below the low-income cut-off as established by Statistics Canada

Extend carbon emission taxes to oil and gas and cement industries

Convert fuel taxes to a carbon and environmental taxes

Place a hard cap on large final emitters of GHGs (the ten largest industrial sources account for 15% of all BC GHGs)

Ensure that GHG emissions reporting in BC takes into account the GHGs of coal-fired electricity imported from outside the province and work to eliminate imported coal fired electricity

Make the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) by the Oil and Gas Commission a regulated requirement under the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change

Phase out the nearly $350 million in annual subsidies to the oil and gas industry

Place a permanent moratorium on coal bed methane projects and shale bed gas exploration and production

Mandate that the oil and gas industry meet provincial GHG reduction targets and make records available for GHG audits

Prohibit gas flaring by sector industries, with significant penalties for non-compliance (flaring and fugitive emissions at natural gas facilities account for nearly 14% of GHG emissions in BC)

Regulate vehicle carbon emissions to fall by 85% by 2030, using tax incentives and regulatory standards

Cancel the exemption of BC Ferries Corporation from the GHG Reduction Targets Act

Introduce an automobile environmental carbon tax — by sliding scale according to the fuel efficiency of the vehicle and distance driven

Regulate the hydrogen fuel cell industry to ensure the use of only zero emission energy for hydrogen production

Provide tax breaks and funds that support cycling, transit, rail, tele-working, walking and video-conferencing

Match any federal tax incentives for Canadian manufacturers of super-efficient vehicles, Plug-in Hybrid Electric, and electric vehicles sold in BC

Rail is the most carbon efficient way to move goods and people. Invest in renewing and expanding rail systems in BC. Move cargo to routes serviced by rail in order to reduce the volume of trucks moving goods through Metro Vancouver

Implement distance-based auto insurance, congestion, road and parking pricing policies

Building Code Changes

Mandatory installation of solar hot water systems and pre-wiring for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on new buildings

Mandatory 2 kW solar PV systems on all roofs two years after the price of solar falls to $2/watt

Inclusion of pre-wiring building requirements for electric cars. Particular attention will be given to implementation for multi-tenant buildings, work-place parking, and public parking lots

Energy efficiency labeling for buildings before they are sold or leased, including the average energy consumption

Phase out electric resistance heating (such as baseboard heating) for all new developments in favour of geothermal, solar hot water, and ground/water/air source heat exchange.

Require that heat recovery devices be put in place on suitable (water and waste) drains

Implement a provincial program to energy retrofit public sector buildings such as universities, schools, museums, and hospitals

Mandate the use of occupancy sensors on all public area lighting, including all multi-tenant and office buildings

Require that all new publicly-funded buildings in BC are energy self-sufficient and qualify as net-zero GHG emitters by 2020

Forest Policy to Support Action on Climate Change

Institute watershed-and ecosystem-based management plans and rate of cut determinations based on ecologically sustainable forestry principles that protect timber and non-timber forest values, including cultural, environmental, tourism, recreational, and fishery values

Maintain natural (fire, wind, insects, etc.) and human (logging) disturbances within the historic range of natural variability

Phase out clear cutting in second-growth stands replacing this practice with frequent light commercial thinning and longer rotations

Designate as off-limits to logging our remaining in-tact watersheds, domestic drinking water watersheds, endangered ecosystems, habitats of endangered species, and First Nations lands on which approval to log has not been granted

Ban the use of pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilizers in public forests

Eliminate coastal old-growth logging

Maintain the ecological integrity and resilience of forests to reduce vulnerability to natural and human caused stresses

Set the same standards of environmental protection for logging on private lands over five hectares, as established for public lands

Establish a reserve fund to enable increased forest restoration activities during times when the forest economy experiences a downturn

Greg Kyllo (BC Liberals):

Human activities, directly and indirectly, can contribute to climate change and research has shown how the emission of CO2 gases and other toxins deplete the ozone layer. However the climate continuously changes-and change in itself is not cause for real concern. Global warming, on the other hand, poses a more imminent problem as it degrades our atmosphere and puts as at direct harm. Yet we must be practical in tackling global warming. As consumers of our planet’s resources and inhabitants of this earth, we should limit the practices that are known to emit dangerous levels of toxins or pollutants that put our health in serious risk. We must also acknowledge that the transition to a greener economy and society will not happen over night. Therefore, we must first invest in innovative yet practical ways to shift to green technologies while still meeting the consumer and industrial demands of today.

The B.C. Liberal Party has been a leader in tackling climate change. We were among the first provinces to implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax, at a time where other countries strongly argued against it. Our party also introduced the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act. This Act made B.C. the first jurisdiction in North America to commit to carbon-neutral operations in all public-sector organizations. These, and other measures have had a real impact on our environment. Between 2007 and 2010 BC saw a decrease in greenhouse gas emission by 4.5%. Our government also implemented the LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program, which provides financial support to households and businesses for energy audits and energy efficiency building retrofits. To date, the program has stimulated an estimated $473 to $525 million in economic activity, creating between 4,729 to 7,882 years of employment. The BC Liberals remain firmly committed to optimizing renewable, and clean energy sources through innovative means. In doing so, we will continue to set an example for other provinces in reducing our carbon footprint

Steve Gunner (BC NDP):

Yes. I personally believe that human activities are a significant cause of increasing climate change. And I believe that we can no longer continue on as we have; we must take action today. I could write 1000 words on this topic, and still have more to say.

This is a fact: we cannot have a a healthy economy without a healthy environment. And this fact is the starting point for New Democrats when talking of either the environment or the economy. They are inextricably linked.

We have been clear, for instance, that the Enbridge pipeline will not proceed. The primary reason is that it does not make environmental sense. While the BC Liberals are asking that the economic pot be sweetened so the project can proceed, New Democrats understand that the environmental consequences of proceeding with the pipeline are greater than can be borne, and increased royalties will never overcome that.

New Democrats have already made one significant announcement that will have real effects on climate change: the expansion of the Carbon Tax to include oil and gas venting.

We can’t wait any longer. Instead of taking real action on climate change, we’ve had a government that preferred fancy titles and photo ops under the heading of climate action and carbon neutrality.

Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. It’s time for a change.


* From Tim: This post will stick at the top of the blog until the next question and responses are posted next Sunday!

– Here are many ways to follow the Declared Shuswap Candidates for the Provincial Election May 14 2013 on the web

… and don’t forget to send in your questions! There is still room/time for more!

… Plus here is the link to previous questions/responses:

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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