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)

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.”

READ MORE: Fossil fuel industry tops the list of lobbyist groups in Ottawa

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

The second of two massive hydro-electric turbines headed to the Site C Dam project near Fort St. John sits in Prince Rupert ready for the Jan. 27 trek across the province. The load is so large and heavy it needs counterweights on the 120 ft transport truck and trailer (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Second of two giant turbines and multi-vehicle convoy hit the road to Site C Dam

Massive turbine load from Prince Rupert needs one truck pulling it and two trucks to push it

John Rustad, MLA Nechako Lakes. (Submitted photo)
Nechako Lakes MLA questions vaccine supply shift

John Rustad wonders why elderly aren’t being vaccinated while younger people are

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Saik’uz First Nation forced to change initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan

The First Nation community is looking at vaccinating elders 80 + only

Operating Room nurse Tammy Solecki, Clinical Practice Leader Joanne George, and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Van Zyl, stand alongside new equipment G.R. Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. (Submitted photo)
New shoulder surgery program at G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel already getting rave reviews

The $200,000 program could support nearly 100 surgeries a year at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read