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Op/Ed: When it comes to climate change, action, accountability go hand in hand

Premier John Horgan and MLA Bowinn Ma meet with youth climate activists in Vancouver. — Submitted photo

I will never forget the moment a six-foot tall teenager told me he felt small. He was one of ten youth climate activists I met with at the height of the September climate strikes.

At that meeting, this young man told me the global scale of the climate crisis makes him feel like the impact he can have is miniscule.

I told him I understood that feeling. When I was 12, I skipped school to protest underground nuclear weapons testing taking place in Alaska. I felt a real fear and uncertainty about my future, and the world my friends and I would inherit. But I didn’t let that stop me from joining others and taking action to make our world a better place.

Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. When the effects are so big – wildfires, floods, droughts – it can be hard to see that our actions do make a difference.  

The youth I met in Vancouver that day are making a difference on climate. They are changing the way people live, think and act. They are leaders in their homes, schools and communities. They are demanding action and accountability from decision makers.

We must follow their lead and do everything we can to fight climate change. Our government is working hard every day to build real climate action into everything we do.

It’s been one year since we launched our CleanBC plan to tackle climate change and put us on the path to a cleaner future. We are reducing air pollution by shifting homes, vehicles and businesses away from fossil fuels and toward a greater use of renewable energy sources. And we’re boosting energy-efficient solutions like zero-emission vehicles and home heat pumps, by making them more affordable and accessible for British Columbians.

B.C. is becoming a global destination for new investment in pollution-reducing technologies. We’ve signed an agreement with the Business Council of B.C. to work on low-carbon initiatives for industries that use a lot of energy.

Together, we are building an economy that creates jobs and opportunities for people, while protecting our air, land and water.

We will be honest and transparent about our progress. Last month, we introduced a bill that will make sure our government, and future governments, are accountable for meeting our emission-reduction targets. The Climate Change Accountability Act mandates us to work across sectors to meet those targets and establishes an independent advisory council to report publicly on our progress every year.  

Our climate commitments will only make a difference if we follow through on them.

When I think about the young climate activists I met in Vancouver, I feel inspired. Just as my friends and I did when we were young, they are doing everything they can to protect our planet. Now, as Premier, I am committed to working with government partners on solutions that will improve the quality of life for people today, and for future generations.

I know we can do it. Let’s get it done.