Clean Energy Discourse in British Columbia, 1980-2014
Keywords:energy policy, discourse analysis, energy, government, public policy, natural gas and LNG, hydroelectric power
In 2007, under the leadership of Premier Gordon Campbell, the British Columbia government introduced a new clean energy policy. Although initially overshadowed by the corresponding climate policy, over time the clean energy policy has become both high profile and controversial. This analysis traces clean energy discourse in British Columbia from 1980 to 2014. Focusing on the post-2007 period, I examine how the clean energy discourse has taken shape in the regulatory and material context of British Columbia’s energy system and describe its evolution from a policy focused on minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation to a promotional tool for the proposed liquefied natural gas industry. In doing so, I describe how the clean energy discourse is linked to persistent narratives for energy development in the province and show how it both perpetuates and alters these narratives. I also highlight important interactions between policy discourse and energy infrastructure in the province illustrating how the clean energy discourse both accommodates and acts to discursively and materially shape provincial infrastructure.