An anti-pipeline protest was held in Prince Rupert on Jan. 8, coorindated with protests happening across the country in support of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation people opposing the Coastal GasLink pipeline. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

B.C. provided $830M in fossil fuel subsidies in 2017-18: report

B.C. committed $902 million over the next three years to CleanBC

The British Columbia government gives hundreds of millions of dollars annually in subsidies for fossil fuel, including an estimated $830 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year, a new report says.

Most of the money goes to fossil fuel producers rather than consumers, says the report released Monday by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, an environmental think-tank.

The subsidies include royalty reductions, provincial tax exemptions and direct investments, undermining B.C.’s action on climate change including its long-standing carbon tax, says co-author Vanessa Corkal.

“If you have a boat and you’re trying to use the carbon price to bail water out of the boat, fossil fuel subsidies are kind of like the leak in that boat,” she says in an interview.

“As long as you’re funnelling money to an industry that is going to increase use and production of fossil fuels, a carbon price is only going to do so much.”

Royalty reductions made up a major portion of the approximately $830 million in subsidies given in 2017-2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the report says.

The report says oil and gas companies are required to pay royalties meant to provide benefits to B.C. residents, including by helping fund health care and education.

But every year, it says companies claim credits to reduce the royalties they pay. The report estimates B.C. has amassed at least $2.6 to $3.1 billion in outstanding royalty credits.

Provincial tax exemptions covered a smaller chunk of the subsidies in 2017-2018, the report says. While a large portion of tax exemptions go to fossil fuel consumers, that doesn’t just mean average residents trying to heat their homes — airlines, cruise ship companies and the agriculture sector also benefit.

Energy Minister Michelle Mungall says in a statement that a number of provincial initiatives have been “inaccurately characterized” in the report, though she didn’t specify which ones.

She says the CleanBC plan to fight climate change includes a program for industry that will reduce emissions by 2.5 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030.

“We regularly review royalty programs. Our government will keep working hard to keep B.C. on the path to a cleaner, better future that creates opportunities for all,” she says.

The report notes the B.C. New Democrat government has committed to progressive hikes of the carbon tax, but at the same time has introduced or entrenched fossil fuel subsidies in recent years.

The mining exploration tax credit, which helps to subsidize coal, was made permanent in 2019, the report says. Coal exploration increased by 58 per cent the previous year, it says.

B.C. also still exempts emissions from the carbon tax for controlled venting, or the releasing of gases into the air from natural gas operations, according to the report. With new liquefied natural gas facilities under construction, these types of emissions are likely to grow, it says.

The government has also established new subsidies and increased access to existing ones for the liquefied natural gas sector, the report says. This year the province signed an agreement with LNG Canada, a joint-venture group formed to build a major liquefied natural gas project in northern B.C.

In the agreement, the province committed to provide electricity at the standard industrial rate, eliminate the LNG income tax, allow LNG Canada to claim a natural gas income tax credit and defer provincial sales tax on construction costs.

The report prompted environmental group Stand.earth to call for the province to end subsidies to the oil and gas industry before the next election.

International program director Tzeporah Berman says the subsidies threaten the province’s climate change targets and undermine the CleanBC plan.

Berman notes B.C. committed $902 million over the next three years to CleanBC, only a little more than the $830 million the report says it gave fossil fuel polluters in 2017-2018.

“We cannot be getting off fossil fuels by handing taxpayer dollars to the biggest polluters to help them pollute,” Berman says.

“We need to be using taxpayers’ money to build the cleaner and safer economy that we want, and yes, we need to be increasing the cost to pollute.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Abbotsford church posts Rosary prayer video for doctors and nurses

St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church supports frontline healthcare workers online with video

The Reach Gallery in Abbotsford offers virtual exhibits and learning activities

New online resources developed during period of self-isolation

Abbotsford citizens rally for struggling young family with donations amid pandemic

Expecting mother reached out online for help, community response brought her to tears

VIDEO: Surprise drive-by birthday held for Abbotsford teenager’s 13th

Friends wave from vehicles to adhere to social distancing

High cost, limited coverage for asthma medicine a concern during COVID-19

Abbotsford man says he skips puffs to save money, but others have it worse

‘We will get through this’: B.C. sees new COVID-19 death, but 57% have recovered

A total of 1,066 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Fraser Valley crafters are busy sewing cotton masks for health-care workers and others

One Chilliwack woman has made 125 masks so far, and is still going strong

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

Most Read