B.C. NDP leader John Horgan went to Squamish for his latest campaign event in the surprise 2020 election, adding to his series of long-range goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only will B.C. eliminate 80 per cent of its current carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, a re-elected NDP government will mandate in legislation that the province will reach a “carbon neutral” state the same year, Horgan said at the headquarters of CO2 extraction pioneer Carbon Engineering on Oct. 2.

That means all new emissions from vehicles, industry and buildings have to be offset by reductions in other places, natural carbon sinks such as additional forest, or industrial-scale removal as Carbon Engineering plans to do.

During the Horgan government’s three years in office, it set the latest 80-per-cent emission reduction target. It has also legislated that B.C. will allow only zero-emission new vehicles to be sold by 2040, which means battery or hydrogen fuel cell power, assuming technology available today.

The commitments are in the NDP’s “CleanBC” plan, developed with the B.C. Green Party to meet a goal of reducing B.C.’s annual emissions 19 million tonnes by 2030. Horgan says this can be done even as work carries on for the LNG Canada and Coastal Gaslink pipeline project across northern B.C., and the Trans Mountain oil pipeline twinning project from Edmonton to an expanded export terminal in Burnaby and increasing supply to refineries in Washington state.

“We believe we have space in our plan for new emissions, but not excessive new emissions,” Horgan said, adding that a smaller liquefied natural gas project at Squamish is still in the works. Since forming a minority government with B.C. Green support in 2017, Horgan’s government strained that working arrangement by offering new tax incentives for LNG Canada.

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Trans Mountain announced this week it has laid the first B.C. pipe in its pipeline twinning project near Kamloops. Work on the Alberta side has been mostly completed, and tank capacity and loading dock expansion for diluted bitumen exports out of Westridge terminal are well underway.

Coastal Gaslink has work camps in place across northern B.C., and the LNG Canada processing and export facility is underway at Kitimat.

Carbon Engineering started its pilot project for extracting CO2 directly from the air at Squamish in 2018, and has gathered investment support from Chevron and other petroleum companies, as well as Alberta oil sands executive Murray Edwards and former Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

In September, fast-growing Canadian digital sales company Shopify was the first to announce its intent to buy carbon removal on a permanent basis once the technology reaches a commercial stage, and to invest in Carbon Engineering’s latest demonstration project, scheduled to begin operating in August 2021.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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