BC Environment Minister welcomes COP28 agreement

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But George Heyman also admitted it could have sent a “more positive signal”

Environment Minister George Heyman called the final agreement reached at COP 28 a “step forward.” But he also acknowledged that the government could have “sent a more positive signal” through stronger language about phasing out rather than moving away from fossil fuels.

The non-binding agreement, agreed by around 200 countries in Dubai this week, calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in our energy systems in a fair, orderly and equitable way to achieve net zero by 2050, in line with science”. ” is required. ”

Other aspects of the agreement call for measures to triple renewable energy and reduce coal and methane use by 2030. The agreement also calls for accelerating the use of nuclear power and unproven and expensive technologies for carbon capture.

Heyman said the agreement recognizes that the world is in crisis, adding that the effects of climate change are being felt sooner than most expected.

“The situation is already serious in many parts of the world, including British Columbia and northern Canada, and it will only get worse if we don’t act globally,” he said. Ta. “So the formal recognition that fossil fuels are the single largest source of greenhouse gases and that we need to tackle it, face it and be honest about it is an important step forward and we I welcome that.”

Mr Heyman said the agreement was clearly better than the worst possible outcome, adding: “It was supposed to be a plain statement of no desire to take action, but that didn’t happen.” I’m glad that happened,” he said.

Heyman acknowledged that the effectiveness of the deal is unknown because it lacks an enforcement mechanism and depends on the world’s understanding that we are facing a collective crisis that will worsen without action. “I can be an optimist or a realist, whatever you want, but I can say that we need to continue to work towards positive outcomes in reducing emissions and tackling climate change.”

RELATED: ‘Monumental’: UN summit approves transition to fossil fuels, Canada joins

Related: BC Environment Minister advances BC’s climate change policy at COP28

However, even if COP28 recognizes the seriousness of the situation, many believe that it is not enough.

Ottmar Edenhoffer, director and chief economist of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a leading climate change expert, said on German television that the deal was better than feared, but far from what was needed. He said that this view was probably shared by many people. Island states lamented that the agreement lacked ambition and teeth.

Let’s consider the numbers. The International Energy Agency estimates that Dubai’s commitment means the world will miss 70% of the greenhouse gas reductions needed to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. .

But some are hailing it as a historic breakthrough, and others say it signals the end of the fossil fuel sector.

Peter McCartney, a climate activist with the Nature Conservancy, said the deal was not as strong as it could have been. But there is a “clear demand” that oil and gas production be reduced as soon as possible. “If you believe the language of the agreement that the whole world just signed, we don’t need to build new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants or tar sands pipelines,” McCartney said.

COP28 demonstrated the incoherence of Canada’s climate change policy when it comes to the oil and gas industry and fossil fuel exports, McCartney added. “State and federal governments continue to operate as if the rest of the world is not actively working to reduce the use of these products,” he said.

Heyman said investment decisions are made by supporters.

“Contrary to what many claim, we do not simply support every LNG project that comes along. We have clear conditions. When we announced, emissions from LNG Canada’s Phase 1 were modeled. Since then, the company has announced that any proposal to participate in the environmental assessment process would require the installation of a zero-emissions facility by 2030. Introduced a new Energy Framework for Action and committed to capping oil and gas emissions by 30 t0 to 38 percent (greenhouse gas) targets. Ultimately, this is about emissions. There is, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

British Columbia did not have a seat as a territorial entity, but the province had a presence at the conference during the first week through Heyman.

“I had a good discussion with my federal counterpart, Stephen Guilbeault, and we had a number of useful discussions[with a variety of stakeholders]as well as climate change response and mitigation and climate adaptation. I participated in several important panel discussions on both and preparation.”

Heyman said he “renewly” asked Guilbeault to “ensure that British Columbians, not just the Atlantic provinces, benefit from federal support for electric heat pumps.”

RELATED: ‘Real costs’ of climate change outweigh costs for British Columbia to fight climate change: Hayman

Mr Hayman said the two ministers compared their respective governments’ efforts on emissions caps for the oil and gas sector. “They have published their framework, and we are working on finalizing the framework,” Heyman said. “We want to be careful not to impose separate administrative burdens on industry, so we will adjust the federal cap to the extent that it meets the goals that British Columbia has committed to.”

Heyman said he and Guilbeault share the view with other states that “we need massive action on climate change,” adding, “‘We’re not the world’s biggest polluter.’ It’s not enough just to say it,” he added.

Heyman and Guilbeault said they are trying to send a message that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand. “Since 2018, when we implemented the CleanBC plan, we have reduced our emissions by five per cent, while also leading Canada’s major provinces in economic growth over the same period.”

Ultimately, Heymann said, local governments “taking action” shows governments there is “willingness” to move forward.

“I think that’s what drives them, but I can’t prove that empirically,” he says. “However, as California and British Columbia discuss clean energy technologies such as hydrogen and proposals to decarbonize medium- and heavy-duty transportation, there is a need to align clean fuel standards and adopt similar standards for electric vehicles. I know that when we do that, we create a bigger market where we can have greater success.”

The adjustment process may deepen further in the future.

“We also had a very productive discussion about different forms of carbon pricing and how to adjust them in the future,” Heyman said.


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