BC’s new global warming plan?

This story below was the front page banner headline on Saturday’s Vancouver Sun. It is a pretty exciting thought that BC might seek to emulate California with aggressive emissions targets. And between the lines, there appears to be some backtracking with regard to the approval of two new coal-fired power plants (which would be the first in BC, and are not planned as implementing “clean coal” sequestration technology). With the Throne Speech tomorrow we will have to wait and see what is really in the plan.

But here’s a challenge that did not get mentioned in the story: the BC government has also signed the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) with Alberta. Given that Alberta is home to many of the worst global warming offenders, and that TILMA allows for corporations and governments to sue over regulations that “impair” or “restrict” investments, it would seem that a meaningful climate change plan that involves regulation would be met with resistance, then lawsuits, from Alberta. There are also major TILMA restrictions on business subsidies and government procurement, both of which would be policy tools that could support a global warming plan.

One option would be for the BC government to scrap TILMA, which is not due to go into effect until April 1. But if they stick with it, the plan on global warming would pose the first major test of TILMA. The agreement does have language around protection of the environment as a “legitimate objective”, although actions must pass a three-part test, and some additional leeway may be granted under the exemption for “measures adopted or maintained to promote renewable and alternative energy”. Whether these would be enough depends on what is in the plan, and how a dispute panel would view the case.

Campbell to launch major ‘green initiative’
Tuesday’s throne speech to call for emission targets to tackle global warming

Saturday, February 10, 2007

VICTORIA — Premier Gordon Campbell is planning to launch a major “green initiative” next week that will follow much of the script that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has laid down in California to combat global warming.

The B.C. Liberal government, which has taken heat from environmental groups and the New Democratic Party for being too slow to take on climate change, is planning to unveil a strategy in Tuesday’s throne speech that, for the first time, will support the idea of emission targets for greenhouse gases.

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