VICTORIA, B.C. — B.C. Auditor General Carole Bellringer has released a new report slamming the provincial government for its inadequate efforts to manage climate change risks.
In her report, Managing Climate Change Risks: An Independent Audit, Bellringer says it is highly likely that B.C. will not meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one third of 2007 levels by the year 2020. She added that models also suggest the province is also not on track to meet targets for 2050.
“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges the world is facing. The B.C. government has a lot of work underway to adapt, but it hasn’t comprehensively assessed the risks the province faces, and doesn’t have a plan to move forward,” said Bellringer. “And B.C. will likely not meet its 2020 emissions reduction target.”
The Auditor General noted that B.C. is already feeling the impacts of climate change and this will likely increase in severity. She said that from 1900 to 2013, B.C.’s average temperature increased faster than the global average.
Bellringer said in her report that managing climate change requires two responses: mitigation and adaptation.
“Mitigation means reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation means taking action to reduce the potential harms from climate change. For a climate-resilient province, both mitigation and adaptation are needed, and they must complement one another.”
In the report, Bellringer and her team identified key areas where government needs to improve its response to climate change, and made 17 recommendations – 15 for adaptation and two for mitigation.
The report goes on to say that the Province faces significant challenges in three key areas – flood, wildfire and drought. The government may not be able to manage flood risks given a number of factors – including a lack of staffing and technical capacity, outdated flood-plain maps, and roles and responsibilities that are spread out across many agencies and levels of government. Similarly, government’s wildfire prevention activities are not sufficient, and to date, have not substantially reduced the risk.
“The events of the past year highlight the environmental, economic and social threats that climate change poses to the province,” said Bellringer.
The report also points out that last summer, the area burned by wildfires in B.C. was equal to that of the past seven years combined. In addition, a combination of heavy rains and snowmelt caused major flooding in the Okanagan during the spring of 2017.
Bellringer’s full report can be read below.