February 23, 2022
Climate action was a dominant theme in the Government of British Columbia’s 2022 budget, revealed yesterday, and one of the initiatives signifies a major shift in how Government will be funding climate action by local governments.
Funding for a new Local Government Climate Action Program was pegged at $76 million over three years, roughly three times the amount that previously flowed to local governments annually through the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP). For more than a decade, CARIP provided funding to local governments that have signed the BC Climate Action Charter equal to the carbon taxes they pay directly to support local government operations.
“Budget 2022 is the most strategic investment in local climate action that BC has made in more than a decade and comes at a critical time in the decade of climate action,” says Dale Littlejohn, CEO of the Community Energy Association.
Last year, after the Government of BC announced that it was wrapping up the CARIP program, CEA surveyed BC local governments to assess the local impact of how CARIP funds were used. The results indicated that CARIP funds were often leveraged with other funding programs to significantly increase local government capacity and implement local climate action initiatives. However, smaller communities often didn’t receive adequate funding to increase local capacity for climate action and were burdened by the additional reporting requirements.
“While program design is still being worked out, ministers have previously indicated that all local governments will receive at least as much as they did through CARIP and that it will be flexible and dependable,” noted Mr. Littlejohn. If program design is informed by CEA’s analysis, smaller local governments may receive significantly more funding than through CARIP, local governments won’t have to apply through a competitive process, and funds will be able to be applied to building local staff capacity or stacked with other grants to implement climate-related projects.
CEA's experience likewise indicates opportunities for how communities can make the most of additional funding:
1. Identifying priorities from their Community Energy and Emissions Plans
2. Exploring how other communities have shared funding to increase local capacity and secure additional grants. One example is how CEA has enabled the Regional District of East Kootenay to have a shared community energy manager for all of its municipalities
3. Exploring how other communities have collaborated on region-wide implementation of climate action initiatives such as the regional networks of electric vehicle chargers
More implications of Budget 2022
New investments related to CleanBC total about $1 billion and many have implications for local governments. CEA has produced a summary identifying budget topics for local government financing, transportation, buildings, climate change mitigation, and adaptation.
More information about the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030
CEA and the BC Municipal Climate Leadership Council are presenting a webinar for local elected officials to learn about the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030 and what it means for local governments. The webinar will feature remarks from the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Thursday, March 3, 2-4pm pacific time
Register for the event to confirm attendance: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/local-governments-and-the-cleanbc-roadmap-to-2030-tickets-272427707607