VANCOUVER - The British Columbia government has introduced a strategy to shift away from fossil fuels and build the provincial economy around reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Premier John Horgan said Wednesday it will rely on cutting emissions from buildings, industries, vehicles and organic waste, while boosting the carbon tax and the production of clean hydroelectricity.
The plan will move the province to a low-carbon future, said Horgan, who introduced the plan with Green Leader Andrew Weaver.
"We want to make shifts: shifts in our homes, shifts in our vehicles, shifts in our industry to move away from burning fossil fuels and towards a cleaner, greener approach using British Columbia's abundant electricity and other abundant opportunities that are now emerging and will emerge into the future," the premier said.
READ MORE: Numbers for the B.C. government's climate change plan
The climate-change plan will require all new buildings to be net-zero energy ready by 2032, meaning they would need to generate on-site energy to power their own function.
The government says new buildings will be 80 per cent more efficient by then compared with homes built now.
The plan also includes diverting 95 per cent of organic waste from landfills and converting it to other products.
By 2030, 30 per cent of all sales of new light-duty cars and trucks are expected to be zero-emission vehicles, rising to 100 per cent by 2040.
Horgan said the challenges of climate change mean people must move away from burning fossil fuels.
"Every year, we're seeing the unprecedented wildfires and floods that hurt so many people, communities and businesses," he said in a statement. "We need to begin changing how we live, work and commute to put B.C. on a cleaner, more sustainable path."
The government has said the climate plan will be designed to meet legislated targets, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050.
When LNG Canada said in October it was proceeding with its plan to operate a $40 billion export terminal at Kitimat, Horgan said the government would still meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The plan says one of the conditions for liquefied natural gas development is that it fits in the climate commitments, noting that the LNG Canada project could add to 3.45 megatonnes of carbon emissions to the province's total.
"More reductions from LNG’s climate impact will be achieved through investments in electrification of upstream oil and gas production so extraction and processing are powered by electricity, instead of burning fossil fuels," it says.
Weaver's party has an agreement that supports the province's minority NDP government and he shared the stage with Horgan in making the announcement.
"I look forward to working with government, business and other stakeholders to action this plan, so that British Columbians can count on a bright future where all our communities enjoy a thriving economy and a high quality of life for generations to come," he said in a news release issued by the provincial government.
Horgan's government already boosted the carbon tax in this year's budget to $35 per tonne and will increase that by $5 a year until 2021.
The switch to cleaner energy means increased biofuel consumption and a shift to hydro-generated electricity.
The government's plan says by 2030, its new policies would require an additional 4,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity over the current demand.
"This is equivalent to increasing BC Hydro’s current system-wide capacity by about eight per cent, or about the demand of the city of Vancouver," the plan says. The added demand can be met by existing and planned projects, it says.
Auditor general Carol Bellringer released a report on Wednesday that said Hydro's generating facilities are running at near capacity and some of them are more than 85 years old. Her audit didn't cover the $10.7 billion Site C dam project.
The Site C dam on the Peace River is under construction in northeast B.C. and not slated for completion until 2024.