That’s the Gordon Campbell I know.
Over 30 initiatives were announced in yesterday’s Throne Speech to respond to global warming “aimed at reducing B.C.’s greenhouse gases by at least 33 per cent below current levels by 2020. ”  Some of the initiatives, if delivered, are extraordinary: 

Effective immediately, B.C. will become the first jurisdiction in North America, if not the world, to require 100 per cent carbon sequestration for any coal-fired electricity project.
All electricity produced in B.C. will be required to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2016.

As Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer observed: “When (the Premier) gets religion, he GETS religion.”

I remember him typing away on his personal Mac in the Mayor’s Office late at night, crafting policy that would, by morning, lead the city in new directions.  I confess: I wondered what happened to that Gordon Campbell. 

One thing, apparently: he saw China on a recent trip, and was appalled at the sprawling industrial complexes that have ravaged the environment and to which we are directly connected through our port.

Which leads us to the Gateway Project.  This, too, was announced in the days before climate change was taken seriously. (Apparently after the Minister of Transportation was inspired by the road infrastructure he saw, ironically, in China.)  

While electrifying port operations to reduce container-ship emissions and the creation of electrified truck stops to reduce idling are very welcome initiatives, the consequences of road expansion on land-use patterns – and that’s what’s this issue is about – could discount much of what will be achieved elsewhere. 

There is some hope in one of the initiatives directed towards housing and urban sprawl:

Changes to existing funding and transfer payments to ensure integrated regional transportation and housing planning.

It’s possible for Gateway to address both the need for a sustainable region and the need for an efficient transportation system South of the Fraser.   The Throne Speech offers some hope that Gateway might be reconsidered in this new context.

That’s what politics is about: hope.  And Gordon Campbell delivered.

 

 

Comments

  1. Hey Gordon,
    While it’s clearly a step in the right direction, I’m not quite as optimistic. Marc Lee has written a great response over at http://progecon.wordpress.com (“How green is BC’s Throne Speech?”) — it’s well worth the read if you get a chance.

  2. Paul
    Those on the Left are very reluctant to give credit to those on the Right – and vice-versa. The best you get is: “It’s a good start.”
    Qualifications aside, this is a huge step forward because it outflanks those on the far right who would be stunned if these initiatives were brought in by the NDP. Now they have nowhere to go. So much of the issue is settled, directions set and targets established. That’s more than just “a good start.” That’s a ‘Nixon in China’ – and this is one of the most significant turnarounds I’ve seen in B.C.
    Gord

  3. I am dubious of the Throne speech’s claims.
    For one thing, “sequestration” isn’t defined. Gordy could pay some corrupt dictator in some third-world country to promise to plant more trees, under one loose definition of “sequestration.”
    It’s all very sketchy and rushed feeling, as though it’s insincere public posturing. After all, no matter what Gordy says today, there’s always TILMA (http://progecon.wordpress.com/2007/01/26/the-devil-wears-tilma/) to contend with.
    If you haven’t heard of TILMA, it’s to BC what Measure 37 was to Oregon — in effect, a “harmonization” of regulations between BC and Alberta, mostly protecting property rights of big business. But unlike Measure 37, it was made law without any public or legislative input. At least the citizens of Oregon got suckered by an expensive, big-business initiative campaign, instead of quietly ignored, as with TILMA!
    I imagine that once TILMA quietly goes into effect on (you ready for this?) April Fools Day, the two proposed coal-fired power plants will be revived, with the BC government saying, “Sorry, our hands are tied by this here piece of paper!”
    So I’m rather cynical about this rushed, new-found greenness.

  4. Ah, those new coal-fired power plants…the stories I dare not tell!
    As in, seriously, you have no idea how deeply messed up the green power industry is, even when Hydro is out there with an active mandate (and cash money) trying to buy new production projects.
    You want green power? I give you nukes and dams, and the dams aren’t as good as the nukes. Something about the lack of water in the summer and mid-winter.

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