Updated: Jul 21, 2020
British Columbians are bracing for yet another hot and dry summer, following two summers of record wildfires and smoke. The timing was definitely right for us to travel to Victoria to lobby MLAs about the climate crisis.
We hosted meetings with NDP, Liberal and Green Party caucuses and held a number of individual lobby meetings including ones with George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Resources.
This year we lobbied a total of 26 MLAs compared to 17 last year. We also met with the Executive Director of the BC Climate Action Secretariat. This year we lobbied one last time under the umbrella of Citizens' Climate Lobby BC before expanding into the BC Climate Alliance.
Our group of 14 included experienced lobbyists and quite a number new to the task. We made good use of Zoom in the months before to develop our asks, talk about our approach to lobbying, schedule and plan lobby meetings. All were there because of the urgency they feel about the climate crisis. One volunteer said, “ It was the birth of my first grandchild that prompted me to find the courage to ask our MLAs to take action.” Another in his early twenties knows that it is his generation that will feel the real impacts of climate change.
BC has just launched an impressive climate action plan called CleanBC for which we expressed our sincere appreciation. We are also very proud that BC was in the forefront of implementing carbon pricing. However, we are concerned about exemptions to the BC carbon tax, and the need to ensure that the price keeps rising past 2021. Several MLAs were worried that it would be hard to increase BC’s carbon tax if it is frozen at the federal level. We did see strong support for carbon pricing among MLAs from all three parties.
Another area of concern is that BC, along with Alberta, has the highest fossil fuel subsidies in Canada, and subsidy levels in BC are increasing significantly as the province expands fracking to develop an LNG industry. This raises serious questions about how BC’s legislated GHG targets can be met if the upstream methane emissions grow as anticipated.
We presented the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources with a petition and open letter asking that financial supports be shifted from developing fracked gas and a new LNG industry, to our communities to help with the costs of reducing emissions and adapting to climate impacts. Signatures were collected in the Minister’s riding. The petition was signed by hundreds of people and the open letter was signed by most of the local governments and by various community groups, businesses and faith organizations in her constituency.
During the lobbying week we hosted a display of over 30 BC Parachutes for the Planet on the lawns of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria. The display was well attended, including a visit from several ministers and a local school.
A big benefit of the trip for all of us was getting to know lobbyists from across BC. Last year just a few communities were represented, but this year we had citizen advocates from seven different BC communities. So we made sure to plan a social evening for everyone involved. A special guest that evening was Sonia Furstenau, MLA. So we had lots to celebrate.