BC budget

Last week’s provincial 2021 budget includes a substantial investment in the province’s CleanBC climate plan, though some argue it could have gone further in embracing net-zero opportunities

British Columbia continues to be a leading province in Canada in advancing adoption of zero emission vehicles. In the last two weeks data has shown that the province is the national leader in EV sales and the province released the details of their 2021 budget, which includes a new half-billion dollar investment in its CleanBC climate strategy — including $130 million to support the transition towards zero-emission vehicles.

That half-billion-dollar pledge, announced in the province’s 2021 budget, brings the government’s total investment in its CleanBC strategy to $2.2 billion over five years.

The $130 million in ZEV-related funding includes $94 million earmarked for the province’s Go Electric program for ZEV and charging station purchase rebates. A further $10 million will go towards reducing the carbon intensity of fuel and developing B.C.’s hydrogen economy, and additional funding will target key areas including the electrification of school buses, ferries, and government fleets.

“As of last count, there were more than 54,000 electric vehicles on our roads — the highest rate of sales in North America,” said Minister of Finance Selina Robinson, in the budget speech given in Victoria. “We are building on the momentum by helping more people go electric, expanding the charging network, and electrifying more school buses and ferries.”

The renewed CleanBC investment also includes $96 million dedicated to developing the province’s cleantech sector. Specifically, the Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy as well as cleantech investments “to expand partnership opportunities with the federal government” will get a $60-million infusion.

Retaining “B.C.’s competitive edge”

Other priorities set to receive funding include improving the energy efficiency of buildings and reducing diesel power use in remote and Indigenous communities through electrification.

In response to the budget, Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, noted in a press release that while the province’s plan promises to go a long way in bolstering electrification, policy leaders should be focused on actions to remain competitive for the business opportunities a transition to net-zero emissions will bring, such as developing the province’s EV and battery manufacturing industries.

“As countries around the world ratchet up their climate ambitions, climate action and economic action are increasingly one and the same. Canada’s largest trading partners, like the U.S. and the EU, have recognized the huge economic opportunity in transitioning to a net-zero world — as did the federal government’s budget released [April 19]. We would have liked to see greater recognition of this net-zero opportunity in B.C.’s economic plan,” said Smith.

“The province already produces many of the goods needed for the net-zero transition, from forest products to the metals and minerals required for electric vehicles,” said Smith. “We look forward to seeing how the province will build on this budget and others to ensure it retains B.C.’s competitive edge.”