B.C. budget takes overdue steps on climate and old-growth, further investment needed to stem losses

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Wilderness Committee

Concerns remain around gas industry greenwashing and adequate near-term funding for old-growth deferrals
 

VICTORIA / UNCEDED LEKWUNGEN TERRITORIES — Budget 2022 attempts to catch up with the province’s growing ecological deficit. While investments in transportation and forestry transition are welcome, the provincial government isn’t doing enough to back up old-growth protection and continues to support B.C.’s biggest polluters.

“This is an interesting budget in terms of long-overdue money for key things like supporting old-growth protection and clean transportation. We’ll be watching closely to make sure these investments happen both effectively and very quickly,” said National Campaign Director Torrance Coste. “Our climate and biodiversity crises have reached a point where we’ve missed the opportunity to make slow, incremental shifts. We need to forget about fracked gas, protect remaining old-growth forests immediately and make massive investments in cutting carbon pollution.”

Last year’s devastating wildfires and floods weighed significantly on the B.C. budget, with billions in recovery spending and contingency funds. Establishment of a year-round wildfire service is a proactive move that reflects measures the province must take to protect people from climate impacts. While the province is spending $2.1 billion on adapting to a warming world, funding to slash emissions is less than half that total. Much of it, $310 million, is for greenwashing the fracked gas industry with carbon capture and storage and paying fracking companies to cut methane emissions.

“We should be spending at least as much to fight climate change as we are dealing with its impacts,” said Climate Campaigner Peter McCartney. “With all the necessary measures to reduce carbon pollution, greenwashing the gas industry should not be this government’s top priority.”

The Wilderness Committee is pleased to see proposed old-growth deferrals accounted for in forestry revenues and more than $60 million per year allocated to help affected First Nations, workers and communities. Concerns remain around the specifics of how this funding will be allocated and whether there is adequate near-term funding to remove financial barriers preventing many communities from accepting old-growth deferrals.

“To bring about a paradigm shift on old-growth, the B.C. government must limit financial impacts for First Nations and forest industry workers immediately, not after another few years of old-growth logging,” Coste said. “Transition and support funding are encouraging, but important old-growth forests continue to be cut down today and logging companies remain in the driver’s seat.”

Another notable change is the expected split of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) into two ministries: one to look after forests and another to deal with land, water and other resources. It’s imperative this split doesn’t further delay critical initiatives like implementing the Old-Growth Strategic Review recommendations.

“FLNRORD has been moving far too slowly on old-growth and forestry reform, so we’ll be watching to see whether this split speeds those processes up. We can’t afford to have two ministries not doing enough in place of one,” said Coste.

The Wilderness Committee will continue to review the budget in the days ahead and seek clarity on key programs within relevant ministries while pushing for more investment and action on protecting old-growth and wildlife and fighting climate change.

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For more information, please contact:

Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
250-516-9900, torrance@wildernesscommittee.org

Peter McCartney | Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
778-239-1935, peter@wildernesscommittee.org

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