Modest steps forward, no surprises in BC budget 2017 update

Monday, September 11, 2017 (All day)

For Immediate Release - September 11, 2017

Modest steps forward, no surprises in budget 2017 update
Small and expected improvement, but more action needed on climate and environmental protection


 

VICTORIA – The September 2017 budget update features small and anticipated steps in the right direction for BC’s environment. Small increases to the carbon tax and the elimination of the separate Ministry of Natural Gas Development are welcome, and the Wilderness Committee maintains high expectations that environmental protection and action on climate change will be prioritized in coming months and years under the new BC government.

“This budget update is just a baby-step in the right direction on the environment,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “We’re pleased that the carbon tax is increasing, but overall, this budget doesn’t reflect the importance of a healthy environment and a safe climate for British Columbians.”

As announced during the election campaign in the spring, the government will increase the carbon tax by $5 per tonne, beginning next year. More importantly, the requirement that the tax be revenue-neutral has been dropped, meaning the government can spend carbon tax revenue on green initiatives.

Key agencies like the Environmental Assessment Office and BC Parks see equal spending and a very small increase, respectively, in budgets between the last fiscal year and the current one.

Overall, the environment and climate change weren’t focal points of the BC budget update. The environment wasn’t mentioned in the Minister of Finance’s budget speech, with climate action only receiving a few sentences. In the minister’s presentation at budget lock-up, climate action and carbon pricing were mentioned in the last slide.

“After a decade and a half of inadequate policy on the environment and climate change in BC, we don’t have any time to waste,” Coste said. “We need government to take big, bold steps to protect the environment and ensure clean air and water and a livable climate for British Columbians, and we expect the government to deliver this moving forward.”

The Wilderness Committee is encouraged by government action on issues like the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Site C dam, and hopes to see similar attention for things like endangered species legislation, improved forest management and forestry oversight and restored funding for BC Parks.

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For more information, please contact:

 

Torrance Coste – Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee

250-516-9900, torrance@wildernesscommittee.org