Conservative Party of BC Leader John Rustad said a government under his leadership would scrap the provincial carbon tax, low-carbon fuel requirements and other climate-related programs in promising to return $2.8 billion to British Columbians.
A Conservative government would also reduce British Columbia’s reliance on imports of food and refined fuel by “dramatically” increasing domestic food production and developing domestic refining capacities. Rustad also promised to have a conversation with British Columbians about using nuclear power.
Rustad announced these broad coordinates of his party’s environmental policy Wednesday (Nov. 22) in the provincial legislature. Rustad said his party’s environmental policies will about adaptation and prosperity.
“Taxing people in poverty will not change the weather,” he said. “The bottom line is half of British Columbians today are struggling to put food on the table,” he added. “It’s unrealistic to be burdening them with this kind of tax policy and approaches.”
While Rustad acknowledged that humans have caused the climate to change, they are only among hundreds of factors behind it.
“This is not a crisis,” he said. “In fact, our changing climate is not even the most pressing issue facing people around the world.”
Rustad added British Columbians need three things.
“We need housing, we need food and we need energy,” he said. “Everything else is about our quality of life and what I have found is (that) climate policies, particularly from this NDP government, are attacking all of those factors that we survive with these unrealistic policies.”
Rustad combined these critiques with promises to better manage B.C.’s water and air.
Rustad opened his announcement with quoting from Bjorn Lomborg’s False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts The Poor, And Fails To Fix The Planet. While Lomborg, a statistician by training, is a best-selling author, he is not a trained climate scientist. Climate change scientists considers him to lack credibility on the subject.
Lomborg broadly acknowledges the existence of climate change and the role of humans in causing it, but accuses the media and other self-interested parties from over-hyping its consequences.
Rustad, however, considers the debate around climate change and its impacts not settled.
“There is significant debate,” he said, adding that he would like to see more open and discussion when he asked from where his party draws its scientific research. When pressed to name an institution that has research showing that climate change is not as impactful, he encouraged reporters to look on the web.
“There’s plenty of that out there on the web today,” he said.
Rustad’s announcement comes after BC United Tuesday had presented its plans to scrap CleanBC, the provincial government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions based on 2007 level by 40 per cent by 2030.
Rustad said Wednesday’s announcement had nothing to do with the timing of BC United’s announcement.
“We had actually planned for many months to bring this policy out in November,” he said, adding he does not know the reason behind BC United’s timing. “This is the timing, we had already arranged.”
When asked whether his party’s plan is a case of one-upmanship, Rustad said he hasn’t really looked at all the policies and approaches of BC United.
“What we’re trying to do here, is we’re laying out clearly what the Conservative Party of BC wants to do for the people of British Columbia, how we are going to make sure that we can adapt and prosper as a province.”