The province’s new energy plan is being unveiled today at the same time a B.C. Chamber of Commerce poll shows the business community is divided on whether drastically cutting greenhouse gases would hurt the economy.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Oil and Gas Opportunities Summit continues today at the Delta Ocean Point Resort as about 180 industry officials look at what the future holds for their sector.
Ross Curtis, B.C. Oil and Gas Commissioner, and Roger Gibbons, CEO of Canada West Foundation, are keynote speakers.
Details were not released ahead of time about the energy plan, which will be revealed by Richard Neufeld, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, today at Carmanah Technologies, a Victoria-based solar lighting and power company.
The energy plan comes after Premier Gordon Campbell’s announcement outlined in the throne speech this month that B.C. is setting aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as it tackles climate change.
The province indicated the new energy plan is aimed at B.C. becoming electricity self-sufficient through environmentally sustainable energy sources, while preserving competitive energy costs.
Conservation is a key component of the plan, the province said. British Columbians can also expect moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions in transportation and boost energy efficiency in buildings, as well as new emission standards and new global targets to combat climate change.
John Winter, B.C. Chamber of Commerce president, is calling on the provincial and federal governments for clear direction.
“Make a decision based on information available and create a plan. Create some targets that people can commit to and work with,” he said yesterday from Vancouver.
The chamber’s new poll illustrates the confusion felt by many in the business community, he said.
“We endorse the province’s intent to clean up the environment, but this must be done carefully,” Winter said.
B.C. has to inform and educate the business community to win support for future pollution-reduction targets.
The poll found that 83 per cent of respondents want B.C. to become self-sufficient in generating electrical energy and 84 per cent support development of wind farms. Respondents are split on the value of nuclear power and coal-fired power plants.
WCG International Surveys questioned 159 chamber members from Feb. 5 to 9. The margin of error is plus or minus six per cent 19 times out of 20.
Support for offshore oil and gas development rose to 77 per cent from 65 per cent last year, Winter said. He suspects that backing is tied in with the concept of economic growth and economic independence in B.C.
Asked if they were concerned about whether plans to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions could potentially bring a negative impact to our economy, 42 per cent said yes, 43 per cent said no, and 15 per cent were unsure.
The poll shows a shift in thinking, toward understanding that sustainability and being a self-sufficient producer is important, Winter said.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Oil and Gas Opportunities Summit is expected to discuss key issues affecting the province’s energy industry, including shortages of labour, the spectre of international terrorism on pipelines and other facilities and relations with First Nations.