Premier David Eby used his first international trip to praise United States efforts to address climate change through the Inflation Reduction Act, while at the same acknowledging the challenges that poses for British Columbia.
“We are thrilled to see the United States stepping up to address this issue and to put climate at the centre of a key industrial policy for their country,” Eby said during a news conference with Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee Monday afternoon held in Olympia, WA. “It does bring a challenge to British Columbia and it requires us to be better.”
Eby said he has told the federal government to be “very cognizant” of what the U.S. is doing to promote green energy and to pursue policies that can help B.C. remain competitive and expand in that field.
“We are looking very carefully to the federal budget coming up at the end of the month, because we believe that British Columbians bring a lot to the table around clean energy,” he said.
But Eby also highlighted potential spill-over effects from the IRA.
“Because we are so closely tied, because there is such a shared understanding of where we need to go, investments that comes to Washington State through the IRA will help British Columbia as well, if we have that strong federal partner in Canada,” he said.
Eby made these comments after Alberta-based fuel supplier Parkland abandoned its plans to build a stand-alone renewable diesel complex in Burnaby worth $600 million. Among other reasons, the company cited the IRA, which passed last summer.
The act directs nearly $ 400 (US) billion in federal funding to clean energy with the goal of substantially lowering carbon emissions by the end of this decade. Companies from countries around the world including Canada are looking to tap into that funding by either moving operations to the United States or diverting resources toward existing operations there at the expense of projects elsewhere.
“The decision by Parkland underlines the urgency that we believe the federal government needs to look at how we can ensure we are competitive federally,” Eby said. “For our part, we see both the opportunity and the challenge ahead around establishing a clean-energy economy and eco-system in British Columbia.”
Eby’s host said the de-carbonization of the global economy will create jobs on both sides of the border with deeper integration up and down the West Coast on the horizon.
“I think we will have nothing but alliances as we move forward,” Inslee said.
Other topics of discussion during Monday’s meeting between Eby and Inslee included transportation, fisheries, environment and homelessness.
Eby said his government would bring forward legislation to close a loophole, which has seen stratas move to a 55-year-plus age requirement. The province removed the ability of stratas to restrict rentals late last year, but a growing number are circumventing that by imposing the remaining age restriction.
Eby promised that British Columbians would not “be kicked out of their homes” under his watch if their stratas are going that way.
“We want people to start families, we want them to build their families in British Columbia,” he said. “So we are currently doing the policy work. We will be introducing amendments to address this issue of people who live in buildings that convert to 55-plus.”