Climate action legislation
The B.C. government has enacted climate action legislation that frames B.C.’s approach to reducing emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy.
Carbon Tax Act (2008)
B.C. established a price on greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) beginning at $10/tonne in 2008, with planned increases to $50/tonne by 2022. A carbon price helps provide an incentive for sustainable choices that produce fewer emissions. New revenue generated above the $30/tonne of GHGs level is used to protect affordability, maintain industry competitiveness, and encourage new clean initiatives.
Climate Change Accountability Act (2007)
(Formerly titled Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act)
B.C. has legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2007 levels by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 80% by 2050.
The Province has also introduced an interim target of 16% by 2025 and will set sectoral targets by March 2021.
The Province created a climate change accountability framework, which includes an independent advisory committee and detailed annual reporting on actions taken to reduce emissions and manage climate change risks.
The Province also requires provincial public sector organizations to achieve carbon neutrality every year and gives government the ability to set targets and requirements for provincial public sector buildings, fleets and fuels.
Environmental Management Act (2003)
The Environmental Management Act establishes provisions to reduce emissions from fuels and their combustion, manage greenhouse gasses at waste management facilities, set emissions standards for thermal treatment facilities and allow the regional district of Metro Vancouver to regulate air pollution.
The Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act established greenhouse gas emissions reporting requirements and enabled the ability for standards to be developed for industrial facilities or sectors, including a compliance and enforcement regime. Three regulations exist under the Act:
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulation: Industrial facilities that emit over 10,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year must report their emissions
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Control Regulation: Operators who fail to meet their GHG emissions standards purchase offsets
- Greenhouse Gas Emission Administrative Penalties and Appeals Regulation: Outlines administrative penalties for non-compliance
The Oil and Gas Activities Act regulates oil and gas and related activities in B.C., including wells, facilities, oil refineries, natural gas processing plants, pipelines and oil and gas roads, through permits, authorizations, orders and regulations
- Drilling and Production Regulation (2010): Amendments introduced Jan. 1, 2020, established methane emission reduction targets for upstream oil and gas operations.
- Environmental Protection and Management Regulation: Sets out government's environmental objectives for oil and gas activities to enable environmental protection during the lifecycle of an oil and gas activity
- Oil and Gas Waste Regulation: Regulates oil and gas waste permits, such as air emissions
The Zero-Emission Vehicles Act requires automakers to meet an escalating annual percentage of new light-duty zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales and leases, reaching: 10% of light-duty vehicle sales by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. This is intended to ensure a greater availability of ZEVs at more affordable prices in B.C.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Renewable and Low Carbon Fuel Requirements) Act requires that all gasoline and diesel fuel have a minimum amount of renewable content. The Act also sets a low carbon fuel standard that requires fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of these fuels.
The Clean Energy Act outlines various mechanisms and energy objectives, including:
- Achieve energy self-sufficiency by 2016
- Generate at least 93% of electricity from clean or renewable sources
- Conserve energy, improve efficiencies and reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions
- To be a net exporter of clean or renewable energy
The Utilities Commission Amendment Act encourages public utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, take demand-side measures, and produce, generate and acquire electricity from clean or renewable sources. It provided authority for the Demand-Side Measures Regulation (2008), which sets out rules to be used by the BC Utilities Commission when assessing proposals from utilities to modify consumer electricity use, such as a tiered rate structure to encourage conservation during peak hours.
- The B.C. Energy Step Code (2017) is a voluntary provincial standard to achieve more energy-efficient buildings beyond the requirements of the base BC Building Code. It establishes a series of measurable, performance-based energy-efficiency requirements for construction that buildings can choose to build to and communities may voluntarily choose to adopt in bylaws and policies.
- The Building Act General Regulation (2016) allows local authorities to enact building requirements that reduce greenhouse gas emissions using the B.C. Energy Step Code.
- In December 2014, the B.C. Building Code introduced new energy-efficiency requirements for houses and small buildings. These include the Solar Hot Water Ready requirement, a provincial regulation that communities can voluntarily adopt. It requires new single-family homes in adoptive communities to be built to accommodate installation of solar hot water systems.
B.C.’s Energy Efficiency Act sets energy performance standards for devices that use, control or affect the use of energy, such as household appliances, heating and cooling systems, lighting and some industrial equipment.
The Local Government (Green Communities) Statutes Amendment Act supports local governments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and working towards creating more compact and sustainable communities. The amendments require GHG emission reduction targets in local Official Community Plans and Regional Growth Strategies and supporting policies and actions.
Archived climate action legislation
The Climate Action Secretariat in the Ministry of Environment sought public input on each of the three proposed regulations. A Reporting Regulation Policy Intentions Paper was available for comment between March 19 and April 20, 2015; the proposed Offsets Regulation and Compliance Framework Policy Intention Papers were posted between July 22 and August 21, 2015. For more information on the process, see the proposed intentions papers and the overview (without attributions) of the submissions received. The Ministry thanks those who submitted comments.
- Proposed Offsets Regulation Policy Intentions Paper (PDF, 824 KB)
- Compliance Framework Policy Intentions Paper (PDF, 622 KB)
- Proposed Reporting Regulation Policy Intentions Paper (PDF, 573 KB)
- GGIRCA Regulations Intentions Papers Summary Report (PDF, 474 KB)
Enacted December 2008. Repealed December 31, 2015.
Under the provisions of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act (GGRTA), the Ministry of Environment established the Emission Offsets Regulation that came into effect on December 9, 2008. The Regulation set out requirements for greenhouse gas reductions and removals from projects or actions to be recognized as emission offsets for the purposes of fulfilling the provincial government's commitment to a carbon-neutral public sector from 2010 onward. This regulation was repealed and replaced with the Greenhouse Gas Emission Control Regulation, under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act.
The official regulation and regulation amendment can be accessed as separate documents:
Passed in May 2008. Repealed Dec 31, 2015.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Cap and Trade) Act authorized hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions, which made B.C. the first Canadian province to introduce such legislation. It provided authority for the Reporting Regulation (enacted in November 2009). The Act provided the statutory basis for setting up a market-based cap and trade framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters operating in the province. Parts of the Act were brought into force when the Reporting Regulation was enacted; however, this Act was repealed by the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act (GGIRCA).
- Consultation Backgrounder (PDF, 744 KB)
- Consultation on the Proposed Offsets Regulation (PDF, 396 KB)
- Offsets Regulation - Public Comments Summary (PDF, 179 KB)
Emissions Trading Regulation
- Consultation Backgrounder (PDF, 744 KB)
- Consultation on the Proposed Emissions Trading Regulation (PDF, 273 KB)
- Emissions Trading Regulation - Public Comments Summary (PDF, 221 KB)
Enacted in November 2009. Repealed December 31, 2015.
The Reporting Regulation ensured that large-emitter industrial facilities reported their GHG pollution each year to the Province, which was then posted publicly. This regulation was repealed and replaced with the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulation, under the Greenhouse Gas Industrial Reporting and Control Act (GGIRCA).
The intentions paper for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Cap and Trade) Act Reporting Regulation was posted in October 2008. Comments were solicited for a period of 45 days. The intentions paper and a summary of the comments received are available here:
- Policy Intentions Paper - October 2008 (PDF, 101 KB)
- Summary of Public Comment - June 2009 (PDF, 331 KB)
The ministry’s intentions for the regulation were updated from those indicated in the policy intentions paper to incorporate received comments and developments from the Western Climate Initiative’s Final Draft Essential Requirements of Mandatory Reporting released on July 15, 2009
Passed in May 2008; not in force. Superseded by federal legislation harmonising strict North American standards.
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction (Vehicle Emissions Standards) Act enables implementation of a government commitment made in the 2008 Throne Speech to match vehicle greenhouse gas emission standards to those laid out in California’s 2004 Low-Emission Vehicle II regulations. The Act was to be brought into force by regulation, but this was superseded by the enactment of federal legislation that aligned with the U.S. EPA and brought Canada and B.C. into a harmonised North American standard. Vehicle emission standards cut GHG emissions by 30 per cent relative to 2008 models—a reduction of 600,000 tonnes of GHG emissions annually. This means better fuel efficiency and cost savings for British Columbians.