September 3-10, 2007

BC commits to regional goal of 15% GHG reduction as part of Western Climate Initiative

British Columbia has joined eight western provinces and states in establishing a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020. This target will lay the foundation for a common cap and trade system, said BC Premier Gordon Campbell.

"I want to commend all Western Climate Initiative partners for establishing this common goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for their commitment to develop a multi-sector mechanism to help meet this regional target as well as individual targets," said Campbell. "British Columbia committed in February to creating a single, common standard for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and for registering and trading carbon offsets that reflects true market value. This continental approach will reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the region and stimulate innovation and job creation."

WCI members--British Columbia, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Manitoba--agreed to the target late last month after a meeting in Vancouver earlier in August. The WCI will use the new regional goal in designing a regional, market-based, multi-sector mechanism, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program, by August 2008.

Campbell said the regional goal reflects the combined impact of emission-related targets set by BC and the other WCI members and does not supersede those individual targets. Members will use the regional goal in assessing requests from other jurisdictions to join the WCI.

"Membership in the WCI means having an aggressive GHG target for your jurisdiction, adopting California tailpipe standards, participating in a cross-border GHG registry, and working together on a regional cap and trade system to help meet our targets," he explained. BC, along with Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba committed to a cap-and-trade system during last month's Council of the Federation meeting in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Currently, four other U.S. states (Colorado, Kansas, Nevada and Wyoming), three other Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan) and one Mexican state (Sonora) are participating as observers of the WCI's deliberations. Some of these entities, as well as others, may seek to join the WCI as full members in the future.

In February, BC announced its GHG reduction target of 33% below current levels by 2020, which will place emissions 10% below 1990 levels. Since then, the province has signed memorandums of understanding on climate change and on Pacific Ocean conservation with California and the state of Washington State.

BC has also joined the Climate Registry, a cross-border GHG registry launched in June with 34 states, and two provincial and three tribal members. The registry--North America's largest co-operative effort on climate change, representing over 70% of the U.S. population--is seen as a critical first step in developing robust programs to reduce emissions across the U.S. and North America.

Climate change was a major topic of discussion at the Council of the Federation meeting, where the leaders of 12 of 13 provinces and territories agreed to work toward the objective of implementing California tailpipe emissions standards. All Premiers agreed to implement energy conservation strategies and to reduce GHG emissions within their own jurisdictions, according to each province's and territory's plan for climate change. They also decided to make climate change a central, regular agenda item at future Council meetings.

Their discussions at the meeting led to a number of specific commitments in several areas:

*Measurement and Verification: develop consistent and verifiable measurement of greenhouse gas emissions by joining The Climate Registry;

*Renewable Energy: collectively produce an additional 25,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 through sources such as hydro, wind, solar and tidal;

*Alternative Fuels: work together to develop strategies to implement a national biofuels and hydrogen distribution system, to ensure that Canadians have access to alternative fuels;

*Research and Technology: develop a comprehensive inventory of research currently under way to identify areas of focus for future work and potential partnerships;

*Education: include climate change within their school curricula;

*Energy Efficiency and Conservation: develop and implement programs, standards or incentives aimed at improving energy efficiency in buildings, and promoting the use of energy efficient appliances, vehicles and other energy-using products; and

*Methane Capture: commit to recapture methane gas from large landfills.

Finally, BC Premier Campbell agreed to host a Council of the Federation conference on adaptation to climate change in early 2008.

Formed in 2003, the Council of the Federation seeks to promote closer interprovincial-territorial ties and greater co-operation, and to foster meaningful relations between governments based on respect for the Constitution and recognition of the diversity within the federation.

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