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LA Times showcases BC's lessons from Climate Action Plan

Five years after B.C. passed its cutting-edge Climate Action Plan, an extensive reporting project on the results is getting a lot of attention in California and beyond.

On Feb. 29, The Los Angeles Times published an analysis piece by Chris Wood that distilled what a trio of reporters learned while producing the series "BC's Quest for Carbon Neutrality: Reports from Canada's Climate Policy Frontier" for Tyee Solutions Society. The 10-parter ran on The Tyee in November and December of 2011.

Wood, who edited the series by Tom Barrett, Chris Pollon and Geoff Dembicki, put their findings in context with the political struggle California is having over its own ambitious climate legislation. As Wood writes:

"California's implementation of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, is meeting stiff resistance from greenhouse gas emitters and other opponents of climate change regulation. After one (unsuccessful) attempt to gut it at the ballot box, there remain roadblocks to enforcement and dire predictions of economic ruin if the state goes the whole distance. It might be an instructive moment to check in with the only other North American jurisdiction that's 'been there, done that' with California on climate policy.

"Five years ago this month, the Canadian province of British Columbia launched a quest to slash its carbon emissions that impressed even then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The province's Climate Action Plan aimed to reduce its overall climate emissions by one-third by 2020 from their levels in 2007. An even more ambitious goal was set for the provincial public sector: a target of zero emissions -- 'carbon neutrality' -- by this year.

"How's it worked out? Perhaps not as well as the plan's most ambitious cheerleaders hoped, but some real changes are occurring. And as for economic or political poison? No and no.

"A months-long inquiry by three reporters I worked with found plenty of skepticism about the climate plan's means but continuing support for its ends."

The article goes on to summarize areas Barrett, Pollon and Dembicki delved into deeply, including controversial aspects of B.C.'s carbon tax, making public entities buy offsets to achieve a carbon neutral government, the province's delayed entry into a cap and trade market for greenhouse gas emissions, and more.

Wood's LA Times article quickly was picked up and appeared in The Sacramento Bee (the California state capital daily), The Olympian (newspaper for Washington state's seat of power), Pennsylvania Central Daily Times, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald and others.

The Dallas Morning News, the biggest circulation paper in Texas, linked to the LA Times piece, as did an array of well-known blogs including, and

Britain's New Statesman placed the article on its Feb. 29 list of "must-reads" from the U.S. press.

Wood credited LA Times op-ed page editor Susan Brenneman with helping to add California context for the piece, and reporters Barrett, Pollon and Dembicki for creating the original material.

Find the LA Times article here, and the entire series "BC's Quest for Carbon Neutrality: Reports from Canada's Climate Policy Frontier" here.

Funding for the series was provided by the Bullitt Foundation and Hospital Employees' Union, with Tyee Solutions Society granted full editorial autonomy. TSS funders neither influence nor endorse the particular content of TSS' reporting.

Other media wanting to republish articles from this series without charge can contact TSS editor Chris Wood here.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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