Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the BC Mining Industry

CIM Edmonton 2008
Stephen O'Kane,
Abstract This paper will review and assess the implications of government's aggressive emission reduction goals and potential new regulations to the British Columbia mining sector.
British Columbia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are estimated to have risen by 35 percent since 1990. It is estimated, however, that the BC mining sector contributes less than five percent of the annual provincial GHG emissions. Although GHG emission reductions have long been the topic of scientific and political debate, few regulations exist in North America that require mandatory reporting and emission reductions by industry, as politicians have long espoused a voluntary approach. Public pressure, lobbying by environmental groups, and British Columbia’s and Canada’s recent commitments have resulted in stronger political will to reduce GHG emissions. Governments at the provincial and federal level are now scrambling to prepare regulations for the mandatory reporting of industrial GHG emissions and develop industry specific emission reduction targets and regulations. Industry, where feasible, has been reducing emissions for many years. New absolute reduction targets, however, will be extremely challenging to meet.
The Province of BC joined the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) in April 2007 and introduced the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act in the BC legislature on November 20, 2007. These major and fundamentally new policy decisions of the BC Government have triggered a comprehensive review of existing regulatory statutes pertaining to GHG emissions with the intent of implementing new emission reduction and reporting regulations by the end of 2008. Central to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act is a 33 percent reduction in current BC GHG emissions by 2020.
Amid these concerns and current deliberations by government, the mining industry of BC unearthed an unprecedented $8.1 billion in revenue in 2006, and posted a net income of $2.3 billion. It is expected that simultaneous increases in resource demands in Brazil, Russia, India and China will result in sustained high levels of growth in the mining sector in BC. With over 30 new BC mining projects in the approval process, the supply of potential BC commodities into the markets should be able to help meet some of the international demand. However, such bright economic prospects for the BC mining industry are now set against the particular challenges posed by emerging standards and regulations aimed at reducing total GHG emissions.
Keywords: British Columbia, emission, Reduction, targets, economic, Reporting, Mining, Regulations, Greenhouse Gas, Environmental
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