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Sturdy picks up award for B.C.’s carbon tax

Province’s climate action should not be celebrated, says think tank
The United Nations honoured B.C.’s revenue-neutral carbon tax with a 2016 Momentum for Change award. Parliamentary Secretary Jordan Sturdy accepted this award on the Province’s behalf at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco.

Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy may not have a tan, but he has a shiny new plaque after his recent trip to Morocco. 

Sturdy said he didn’t have time to get out in the sun while he picked up an award for B.C.’s carbon tax at the global UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech last week. 

On Nov. 16, Sturdy, who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Energy Literacy and the Environment, received the Momentum for Change award for the revenue-neutral tax.

“It is recognized as a tool people can use to get to where we need to go in a low carbon future. The idea of taxing what we don’t want in the way of carbon emissions and incentivizing the things that we do want like growing businesses and employment and lower costs for people in the way of tax reliefs,” said Sturdy when he spoke to The Squamish Chief from the conference just after receiving the award.

“There was an award ceremony that had probably 12 recipients from all across the world and there were some amazing people doing amazing things.” 

Sturdy was at the conference with a delegation of about 225 from Canada. 

Energy-focused think tank Pembina Institute was quick to release a statement that B.C. doesn’t have a lot to be proud of in terms of its record on tackling climate change. 

 “While B.C.’s carbon tax should be celebrated, the province’s recent track record on climate action should not,” said Josha MacNab, B.C. director of the Pembina Institute, in a news release.
“The new climate plan that B.C. put forward in August of this year fell flat, especially from a province that used to be a climate leader. The plan doesn’t see emissions start to decline until 2030 and only slowly at that – far too little and far too late for B.C. to do its fair share in the Canadian effort.”

Sturdy responded to the criticism by saying the proof of what B.C. has accomplished is clear in the award. 

“The United Nations recognized today what we have accomplished,” he said. 

“We are going to continue to move forward and we are really supportive of the federal government and the initiatives around a carbon pricing mechanism. What is important now is that we all continue to move forward together.” 

The week-long conference is the 22nd such Conference of the Parties (Cop22) since 1995 that brings together representatives from various countries to focus on tackling climate change. 

Sturdy said the recent election win of Donald Trump, who has denied climate change exists, “was the elephant in every room” at the conference, but he said even a Trump presidency won’t detract from the work being done in regions around the world. 

“Local, regional, sub-regional entities are critical to our low-carbon future,” Sturdy said. 

One of the ideas at the conference that he would like to see considered in Canada is Green Bonds, an initiative from Gothenburg, Sweden.

“You can actually have individuals in the community invest in low carbon solutions,” he said. “It is like buying a Canada Savings bond and rather than just getting a little bit of return… you are focusing that money on particular carbon or greenhouse gas challenges and then able to invest in it.” 

At the close of the conference, Premier Christy Clark released a statement saying B.C.’s “resolve is strong” in its efforts to tackle climate change. 

Costs for the trip will be released once they have been finalized, according to an Environment Ministry spokesperson. 

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