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March 7, 2016
In This Issue
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

PM, premiers talk climate change, carbon pricing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with provincial premiers in Vancouver last week to try to secure a national price on carbon to help fight climate change. By the end of the meetings, the prime minister and premiers had agreed to a climate plan framework that includes an agreement in principle for a carbon-pricing mechanism, although it lacked specifics on how the pan-Canadian system would work.
The BC Chamber reacted with strong support for a national carbon-pricing mechanism to replace the current patchwork of disparate provincial approaches.
Prime Minister Trudeau maintains that a price on carbon is an essential tool to fight climate change and the premiers and federal government would continue to meet to try and achieve that goal, taking into account the provinces’ unique needs.
“The working group that we have put together will dig into the mechanisms that will be most effective, and most appropriate, for each jurisdiction, recognizing that there are areas that face greater challenges,” the prime minister said.
A key outcome of this week’s meeting is agreement among provincial leaders to break off into working groups to examine four main areas of climate change: clean technology, innovation and jobs, carbon pricing and mitigation. The working groups will report back in October, and the hope is that those reports will be used to create a first ever “Canadian framework for clean growth and climate change.”
In the meantime, the federal government says it will take action (likely in this month’s budget) on a number of areas that will advance provincial efforts that will support the fight against climate change. That includes likely investments in public transit and energy efficient infrastructure; measures to increase electric vehicle uptake; regional plans for clean electricity; eliminating dependence on diesel in remote indigenous communities; and doubling investments in clean energy, research and development over a five-year period.

B.C. introduces new oil spill response requirements
B.C. Minister of Environment Minister Mary Polack introduced changes to the Environmental Management Act last week that aim to update and bolster the province’s oil spill response and preparedness regulations.
Previously, the Act simply required companies to pay the cost of a spill. The changes, if passed, would establish new requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery and create new offences and penalties. Companies would also be required to prove they have plans in place to prevent a spill or respond to one should it happen.
If the new legislation is passed, it will come into effect in 2017.