A vision for a thriving, diverse 21st century economy in bc gas engine efficiency

It’s somewhat ironic that it’s also been almost exactly one year since the publication of your breakfast keynote speaker (Adam Kahane’s) book Collaborating with the Enemy: How to Work with People You Don’t Agree with or Like or Trust — a book I bought and read last summer.

In 2012, as I watched the dismantling of Gordon Campbell’s legacy of positioning BC as a leader in the new economy, I realized I had to take my own advice. So, what motivated me to get into politics is fundamentally the same thing that I’m sure motivates a lot of you to do what you do.

Last year, wildfires, which the scientific community agrees will become more extensive, cost our province $750 million. Communities in BC are still recovering from flooding. The effects of global warming are not in some distant future – they are here now. And they will get far worse.

The world is coming together to find innovative solutions to the energy challenges arising from the transition to the low carbon economy. Globally countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Germany are investing billions in alternative energy production to position themselves as leaders of tomorrow.

Global investment trends are being driven by the world’s shared Paris commitments, predicated on the fact that keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius is far more cost-effective than dealing with the effects of a temperature rise above that level.

This shift presents a significant opportunity for B.C.’s economy. Our province is well poised to bolster its leadership in the cleantech sector – Vancouver alone is home to a quarter of Canada’s cleantech companies. And we can thank the leadership of Gordon Campbell for bringing this to fruition.

What the data shows is quite shocking – while gas production has gone from 25 billion cubic metres in 2001 to over 50 billion cubic meters in 2016/17, royalty and land lease revenues to the BC government have gone in the opposite direction, from a record $2.4 billion in 2008/09 down to only $139 million in 2015.

In 2009, B.C. collected $1.3 billion in natural gas royalties. Last year, we collected a mere $152 million. Measured as a share of the value of oil and gas production in B.C., royalties collected by government has fallen from 44 percent in 2008 to just 4 percent last year.

This is a dismal return on the resources that are being extracted from our province. We are giving away more gas for less money while barrelling past our climate commitments. That’s race for the bottom economics at its finest. Opportunity/innovation

It’s profoundly ironic that many believe that doubling down on the approach of the BC Liberals is somehow good for the resource sector when in fact, the job losses, downturn in the resource sector, and economic troubles in rural BC have occurred precisely under the watch of the BC Liberals over the last six to eight years.

Our high school students are consistently top ranked — with the OECD noting that BC is one of the smartest academic jurisdictions in the world. Our high quality of life and beautiful natural environment attract some of the best and brightest from around the globe.

In every corner of the province, innovative British Columbians are using these strengths to generate economic prosperity. After the Midway Mill closed in 2007, the town raised capital to invest in a technological overhaul and reinvigorate the mill.

The innovation commissioner was proposed to be an advocate and ambassador on behalf of the B.C. technology sector in Ottawa and abroad, to enable B.C. companies to more easily tap into existing federal programs and build key strategic relationships.

Rather, it should be the broker of power deals, transmitter of electricity, and leveller of power load through improving British Columbia power storage capacity. Let industry risk their capital, not taxpayer capital, and let the market respond to demands for cheap power.

Similarly, by steadily increasing emissions pricing, we can send a signal to the market that incentivizes innovation and the transition to a low carbon economy. The funding could be transferred to municipalities across the province so that they might have the resources to deal with their aging infrastructure and growing transportation barriers.

Yes, we should be investing in trade skills, as described, for example, under the B.C. jobs plan. But we should also be investing further in education for 21st century industries like biotech, high tech and cleantech. It’s critical that we bring the typically urban-based tech and rural-based resource sectors together.

But, we should use it to build our domestic market and explore options around using it to power local transport. BC businesses such as Westport Innovations and Vedder Transport have already positioned British Columbia as an innovative global leader in this area.

The digital technology supercluster provides another example of exactly the type of innovation government should be doing everything it can to support. The supercluster is estimated to generate up to 15,000 jobs and $15 billion in economic activity in the coming decade.

The companies involved in the supercluster are diverse, innovative and deeply committed to seeing success in British Columbia, and their initiative will help B.C. be more competitive as we respond to changing global trends, and help us get a better return for our resources. Benefit companies

By incorporating as benefit companies, businesses would achieve greater certainty for their directors and investors about their goals and mandate, enabling them to attract capital investment while staying true to their mission as they scale.

Benefit companies are critical because they recognize that in today’s new economy — with triple-bottom-line reporting, providing a workplace where you actually create an environment that is conducive to attracting and retaining employees in a very progressive manner — these are the types of companies that are attracting the millennial generation.

Most importantly, I believe that we must reject politically motivated attempts to pit the environment against the economy. Doing so will only short-change resource-dependent communities by justifying the race-to-the bottom economics of raw commodity exports.

A new direction that places the interests of the people of British Columbia first and foremost in decision-making. And it’s not only today’s British Columbians that we must think about, it’s also the next generation who are not part of today’s decision-making process.