N.S. environment minister says climate change bill will proceed as written

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Tim Halman is Nova Scotia's environment and climate change minister. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)
Tim Halman is Nova Scotia's environment and climate change minister. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)

Despite more than 30 members of the public coming to Province House on Monday calling for changes to the Nova Scotia government's environmental goals and climate change bill, the minister responsible says the legislation will be passed as written.

Environment and Climate Change Minister Tim Halman made the comments the day after presenters to the legislature's law amendments committee called for changes including stiffer emission reduction targets, greater efforts to reduce waste and protect the forests, and a phase-out of offshore oil and gas exploration.

"The bill is going to go forward as we have," Halman told reporters Tuesday. "Certainly those perspectives, though, that were articulated yesterday will be taken into consideration when we build the climate change plan."

The climate change plan, which is required as part of the bill, is to be released next spring. The minister said the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 53 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 is "foundational."

"They're based on a floor, not a ceiling, and as we develop the climate change plan, you'll see that flexibility," he said.

"I think there's real potential that we could potentially hit that 58 per cent."

Opposition plan amendments

Opposition leaders encouraged Halman to consider amendments before passing the bill.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said that while his party would support the bill, it would be "a lost opportunity" not to make the legislation even stronger.

Rankin said the Liberals would introduce proposed amendments, including to ensure the Lahey Report on forestry practices is fully in place sooner than 2023 and to place interim targets in the bill leading up to 2030.

"We have a long list of amendments we'll be putting forward."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said, at a minimum, the government must bring in stiffer emissions reduction targets and act sooner on the Lahey Report, which was released more than three years ago.

"The poor old Lahey Review, if it were a person it would be going around on a walker, it'd be getting kind of wrinkly," he said.

Calls to end off-shore development

One of the recurring themes during presentation Monday was the contradiction of the government pursuing legislation to fight climate change without placing an end date on permitting offshore oil and gas exploration or development projects.

Halman was unwilling to take a position on that Tuesday.

"When we talk about climate change mitigation and adaptation, a lot of conversations are always on the table," he said.

"But right now I'm focused on getting that bill through the legislature and working on that climate change plan."

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