The economic cost of CleanBC

Greenhouse gas emissions

Few in B.C. will argue that we need a plan to reduce our impact on our environment.

The government’s CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 outlines the province's trajectory for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 40% below 2007 levels by 2030.

However, the government’s communication seems to be selectively transparent. While it proudly emphasizes the estimated GHG reductions and mentions generating approximately 18,000 direct and indirect jobs with a GDP increase of 19%, it meticulously avoids discussing the net economic cost, particularly job losses and GDP reduction stemming from a surging carbon tax and other climate policies.

This past month, a report on the economic cost of following CleanBC was largely ignored by the media or thought of as too extreme. Over the past two weeks, other reports from two of Canada’s large five banks have been released, echoing the same sentiment – following the CleanBC plan will end up costing British Columbians.

Why is this important? The government has glossed over significant economic repercussions forecasted in its own modelling, focusing instead on the projected achievements in GHG reductions.

A closer look at the CleanBC document reveals an alarming absence of comprehensive discussion on the broader economic implications. The report briefly mentions increased fossil fuel costs and measures to mitigate impacts but refrains from any further exploration of the policy’s economic consequences, leaving the readers with an incomplete and arguably deceptive representation of the modelling results.

According to the government’s own analysis, the implementation of CleanBC policies will curtail B.C.’s economic growth to historically low levels, resulting in a $28 billion smaller economy in 2030, thereby dialing back our province’s prosperity by over a decade.

Digging into the available modelling results posted on the Ministry of Environment’s website unveils a sobering reality. The CleanBC scenario projects a substantial slowdown in economic growth, especially from 2025-30, when numerous emission reduction measures come into full effect. This reduction paints a grim picture, setting the stage for the weakest economic growth in B.C.'s history.

This all sounds terrible but how does this reduced economic activity affect you?

With CleanBC policies in play, British Columbians faces a future of limited job opportunities and a significant decline in overall prosperity. In addition, government revenue from an active economy will be significantly restrained. That means spending on the services we all depend on, like health care, infrastructure, and social safety nets, are all at risk.

Sadly, the government has yet to openly acknowledge or discuss these consequences to their policy,

As the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change Strategy, I advocate for transparency, accountability, and a balanced approach to climate policy. Dollars spent by this government must be associated with a tangible reduction in emissions, or they should not be spent under the auspices of “green”.

While addressing emissions is crucial, it is equally vital to evaluate and communicate the economic trade-offs comprehensively. The government’s reluctance to openly discuss the economic repercussions of CleanBC underscores a concerning lack of straightforwardness and warrants a reevaluation of the policy’s overall impact on the livelihoods of British Columbians.

B.C. can’t afford a misspend of its tax dollars and British Columbians deserve a transparent and honest account of the economic ramifications associated with the CleanBC policy agenda.

Is there a better way? There must be.

Looking at Norway, it has managed to ensure great prosperity for its citizens, while boasting the lowest emissions in the world. Surely there are programs and best practices that would show us the path to both.

Balancing environmental stewardship with economic prosperity is a complex task, and it necessitates an honest and open dialogue. The government must reconsider its approach, acknowledge the projected economic setbacks, and work collaboratively to establish a climate strategy that safeguards both our environment and the prosperity of British Columbia.

My question to you is this:

How much can you afford to spend or sacrifice on cleaner emissions?

I love hearing from you and read every email. Please email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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