(Gerry Machen/Flickr)

B.C. asked oil, gas industry to refine climate recommendations: documents

The government’s Climate Leadership Team was appointed in spring 2015

British Columbia’s former Liberal government asked oil and gas corporations to “refine” the language of recommendations made by an advisory panel before it finalized its Climate Leadership Plan, documents show.

Meeting agendas and presentations obtained under freedom-of-information legislation by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provide insight into the extent of industry consultation on the plan that was released in August 2016.

The government-appointed Climate Leadership Team released its own recommendations in the fall of 2015 that included increasing the carbon tax rate and moving up the timeline to reduce emissions.

None of the recommendations put forward were fully adopted by the government.

The documents show that after the team released its proposals, the Ministry of Natural Gas arranged meetings with companies and industry groups at the Calgary office of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers in January and February 2016.

Three working groups made up of industry members and government officials were created to tackle three distinct issues: the carbon tax; methane and fugitive emissions; and electrification.

The documents say the methane and electrification working groups were instructed to “refine the language” of the related Climate Leadership Team recommendations, while the carbon tax working group was tasked with determining “the art of the possible (how much and how fast).”

While the government said at the time it would consult with industry, these meetings and working groups have only now been made public, and only after many freedom-of-information requests, said Shannon Daub, associate director of the CCPA’s office in British Columbia.

READ MORE: Wildfires are a climate change wake-up call, Suzuki says

READ MORE: South Surrey student keen on climate change

“They should have been far more transparent about what they were doing,” she said.

The government’s Climate Leadership Team was appointed in spring 2015 and included First Nations, environmental groups, climate scientists and industry representatives. It spent months working before releasing 32 recommendations in November 2015.

Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith, who sat on the team, said she was surprised and disappointed to see how government consulted with the oil and gas industry.

“It’s the government’s responsibility to design good climate policy, good energy policy that has the best interests of British Columbians in mind,” she said.

“They abdicated that responsibility by basically asking one sector, the oil and gas sector, to rewrite the recommendations that were given to them by their own team of experts.”

Brad Herald, vice-president of Western Canada operations at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the industry had no control over either the substance or language of the climate plan.

The government was trying to balance a twin agenda of growing the economy while cutting emissions, and the industry was an important part of that conversation, he said.

“They were seeking input from us. We offered that input, the same as we do in many other forums as the regulated community. Ultimately, they were the decision-makers in the space as they were with the Climate Leadership Team.”

Former Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman said the consultations were appropriate and ensured that new policies would meet B.C.’s greenhouse gas reduction targets while maintaining strong economic growth. The meetings were not intended to be secretive, he added.

“Our folks who were responsible for climate action were sent out to consult with everybody, including the petroleum industry, plus forestry and all the rest,” he said. “You have to measure your competitiveness globally with what you’re going to do.”

Environment Minister George Heyman said his government will announce in the next five to six weeks a new team of stakeholders to review the recommendations of the Climate Leadership Team and how to bring them forward.

The new NDP government intends to set emissions targets for 2030 and benchmarks for the transportation and building industries, he said.

The documents list over two dozen representatives from at least 16 oil and gas corporations and industry groups who attended the Calgary meetings, including Shell, Suncor and Chevron. Shell referred questions to CAPP while Suncor and Chevron did not respond to requests for comment.

CCPA also submitted FOI requests for meeting minutes and summaries but none were released.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A new development surrounding plane that went missing around Revelstoke in November

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

Bikeshare to roll into Kelowna

Kelowna may soon have a fleet of bikes available for hourly rentals

Kelowna police look for missing person

Police ask the public for help in locating a missing man

Four arrests made after couple steals cash stolen in robbery

Kelowna RCMP made four arrests in two “bizarrely related” crimes carried out in Kelowna.

Banner year for housing construction, real estate

If the ample supply of cranes lining Kelowna’s skyline aren’t evidence enough, there’s more cause to believe that this city is in the throes of a building boom.

Your Jan. 22 Morning Brief

Check out the top stories of the day in the Okanagan-Shuswap with Carmen Weld’s Black Press Morning Brief.

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

UK’s Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, engaged

Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, will marry Jack Brooksbank in Autumn 2018

German nurse charged with 97 more murders

Niels Hoegel, serving a life sentence for two murders, has been indicted in nearly 100 more killings.

Okanagan jazz legends grace Vernon Jazz Club stage

The Vernon Jazz Society presents the Craig Thomson Quintet Jan. 27

Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years

The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta

With Senate talks falling short, U.S. shutdown enters workweek

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for noncitizens over U.S. citizens

Heat win fourth straight, Huskies next up

UBCO women hold firm among top four teams in Canada West standings

Toronto mayor wants city to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup

The mayor of Canada’s most populous city says he wants Toronto to be among the North American cities to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup

Most Read