Climate action in BC

About climate action in BC

Climate action in BC is about both reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and addressing the impacts of climate change, including those that are occurring now and those we expect to experience in the future.

Impacts from our changing climate are being felt across the province and timely action will build resilience in our communities. This includes planning and action, for the health and well-being of our communities, the environment, and the economy. Taking action involves collaboration among all levels of government, First Nations, business and industry, and non-profit organizations.

This Toolkit is a resource for local governments responding to climate change and engaging in cross-sector climate action. It features resources to plan for a low carbon resilient future. In many ways, the BC Climate Action Toolkit is both a showcase of actions taken by local governments and a resource to find tools, guidance, and best practices.

Provincial and local collaboration on climate action

Provincial targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (emissions) were adopted in 2007 and took effect in 2008. Although working toward these targets is voluntary for local governments, the Province of British Columbia and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities signed the BC Climate Action Charter in 2007 and created the Green Communities Committee (GCC). Almost all local governments in BC are now Charter signatories. Under the Charter, local government signatories commit to becoming carbon neutral in their corporate operations; measuring and reporting their community’s greenhouse gas emissions; and creating complete, compact, more energy efficient communities.

The GCC, in partnership with the Fraser Basin Council, published the first iteration of the BC Climate Action Toolkit to support local governments in mitigating corporate and community-wide emissions.

Local government action throughout BC continues to support the achievement of the targets and illustrate leadership in climate action. The Government of BC has continued its efforts to assist local governments in preparing for a low carbon resilient future, as illustrated in the timeline below.

Timeline of climate action legislation, tools, and strategies since 2007
Timeline of climate action legislation, strategies, and tools in BC since 2007

CleanBC Roadmap to 2030

In 2021, the Province released the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, a follow-up strategy to the 2018 CleanBC plan. The roadmap provides new measures to help BC achieve its legislated 2030 emissions target of 40% below 2007 levels and goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The roadmap:

  • Details the eight key economic sectors that generate emissions and the eight associated pathways to creating solutions
  • Assesses progress in developing and deploying low- and zero-carbon products, approaches, and technologies
  • Explores a series of 11 pathways to support innovation in sectors where low carbon solutions are emerging, and drive deployment in sectors where they’re already mature – helping to deliver more clean solutions, faster
  • Broadens the factors that are incorporated into efforts to reduce emissions to include advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, improving health and well-being, and reducing inequities
CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 target and emissions reduction profile
Emissions projections from the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030

Pathways to 2030

Local governments will likely have some degree of interest in all 11 pathways, but it is the Communities Pathway that was created specifically to support their efforts in taking climate action in areas that they directly or indirectly influence. The pathway includes the key actions of supporting better land use planning, supporting local climate action, improving local governance, and supporting natural asset infrastructure. 

Other strategies related to local governments

CleanBC has associated strategies and plans that directly support local government response to climate change. These include:

Learn more about CleanBC for local government.

Implementing low carbon resilience

The anticipated 1.5°C increase in pre-industrial temperature will result in a rising number of impacts such as sea level rise, shifts in biodiversity, drought, and dramatic storm events. In 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that limiting global warming to a 1.5°C increase will require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. [1]

Effective climate action will build resilience to a changing climate, while continuing to reduce emissions. Taking action will also require working together across industry sectors and professions and collaboration with First Nations, businesses, the public, and other organizations. The low carbon resilience approach recognizes the overlaps and connections between emissions reduction while building adaptive systems that support our economy and respond to climate impacts.

Components of low carbon resilience
The components to low carbon and resilient communities