06/27/2012 05:06 EDT | Updated 08/27/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. cuts emissions, but faces challenges hitting climate targets

VICTORIA - Environment Minister Terry Lake says British Columbia is cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but still faces challenges hitting its short-term and long-term climate targets.

Lake said Wednesday B.C. has cut its emissions by 4.5 per cent since 2007, but even though the province is currently on target to its short-term target of a six-per-cent GHG by 2012, it's not guaranteed.

When it comes to reaching B.C.'s legislated target of cutting emissions by 33 per cent by 2020, Lake said it's a challenge, but he still believes it can be done.

"It's a challenge that all British Columbians have to embrace," he said. "We have to make personal choices that reduce our individual GHG emissions. Our emissions from 2007 down to 2010 are reduced by 4.5 per cent."

"That is significant in that we are aiming towards a target of a reduction in six per cent in greenhouse gases," he said.

Lake said recent measurements reveal B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions rose by one per cent, making the targets that much more of a challenge to achieve.

He said the recession is largely responsible for the 4.5 per cent drop in greenhouse gas output, but moves to greener technologies also contribute to lowering emissions.

Lake said B.C.'s efforts to increase public transportation, improve building standards and promote clean energy will help the province achieve its emission reduction targets.

While the provincial government announced a review of the carbon tax in February, Lake said the government has no plans to get rid of the tax.

The carbon tax is set to go up by another penny on Canada Day to almost seven cents per litre of gasoline.

Opposition New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming said the Liberals appear to be well off of on their 2012 and 2020 emission-reduction targets.

He said Premier Christy Clark's commitment last week to fuel the government's liquefied natural gas plants with natural gas will increase emissions.