Letter to Gordon Campbell on climate change solutions

April 25, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell
West Annex
Parliament Buidlings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

Dear Premier Campbell,

Re: working with British Columbians for effective climate change solutions

We are writing to urge you to immediately establish an all-party committee with specific timelines to work with British Columbians to develop climate change solutions that are fair, comprehensive, and effective. We propose that the all-party committee be charged with consulting British Columbians through the spring and summer, and bringing concrete proposals to the fall sitting of the Legislature.

It's time to bring the fight against climate change out into the open. By establishing an all-party committee, we can work with British Columbians to build positive solutions that recognize regional differences, the needs of public institutions, and ensure that all polluters pay their fair share. By requiring the committee to report back to the fall session of the Legislature, we will not delay bringing in concrete measures that could decrease emissions.

British Columbians recognize that fighting climate change is the most important task facing our generation. That is why people are so alarmed to see your government’s climate change initiatives unravelling due to unfairness, secrecy, and lack of substantive measures that would achieve the emissions reductions that are needed.

We were pleased to read recent media reports that you have now acknowledged the problem. As you are hearing from people in communities across the province, your fuel tax plan places the entire financial burden on ordinary British Columbians while large oil and gas companies get taxpayer-financed subsidies. People in northern and rural communities will be hit especially hard by the fuel tax. The tax will also add significant costs to hospitals, schools, and municipal governments. This approach creates winners and losers at a time when we need a united effort.

In order to affect real progress on climate change, everyone needs to be involved. An all-party committee would give communities the chance to share their views and concerns. For example, your proposed cap-and-trade system remains vague, and recent statements by your chief climate advisor Mark Jaccard that the cap-and-trade system may not be ready until after the next election are disturbing – letting big polluters off the hook is not only unfair, but will drastically reduce our ability to bring down emissions.

While the all-party committee meets, we are urging you to place a much higher priority on measures to reduce emissions that can be put in place now. For example, your budget has $826 million this year for building roads but only $63 million for expanded transit. More funding for public transit and affordable fares is needed now. Tough regulatory changes for landfills, oil and gas flaring, and other sources of emissions can also be put in place right away.

In short, we urge your government to:

- immediately establish an all-party committee to engage British Columbians in a public discussion about climate change and bring specific proposals back to the fall session of the Legislature;

- take immediate measures to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

- bring the battle against climate change out from behind closed doors and into the open, so British Columbians can be united in the most important task facing our generation.

It is an important first step that you have acknowledged some of the problems posed by your fuel tax. For the sake of future generations, we urge you to take the necessary next steps to ensure that our collective fight to stop climate change is successful.

Sincerely,

Carole James, Leader
New Democrat Official Opposition

Shane Simpson, MLA, Vancouver-Hastings
Opposition Environment Critic

 

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