Of course we'll fail when it comes to cleaning up our acts enough to meet the official target of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by 33 per cent by 2020.
But the point was to try.
The first progress report on how B.C. is faring in reaching the legally mandated reduction target is superficially encouraging.
From 2007 to 2010, the province's total GHG emissions dropped 4.5 per cent. That's a reasonable start toward the goal of cutting them by a third from the 2007 levels.
The trouble is, B.C. as a whole would have to ratchet emissions downward by more than three per cent every year for the next eight years to meet the goal. And that looks almost impossible, given that it took four years of concentrated action on all fronts - and the worst recession in two generations - just to get the total output down by 4.5 per cent.
A 55-page report by the environment ministry paints an encouraging picture of policies having a good impact.
But give Environment Minister Terry Lake credit for candidly admitting one key fact: The economic meltdown had more to do with the reduction than any policy changes. He estimated that the recession was responsible for about two-thirds of the drop over the period measured.
And the recession is over, so the economy is growing again. And economic growth equals increased emissions as surely as stepping on the gas pedal does.
Lake disputed that, saying it is possible to grow the economy and still cut emissions. But it would take constantly increasing pressure by way of more and more draconian policies to make that happen.
No matter who wins the election next spring, there isn't a party around with the inclination to see that through.
B.C. Liberals made a brave start and can claim a certain amount of credit for some of the drop. But they have lost interest in the long-haul "war" that former premier Gordon Campbell declared on climate change. All sorts of policies are being eased or watered down.
Hours after the GHG report card came out, for instance, a review of the carbon tax was announced. It's being looked at with the attitude that no one in the world followed suit, so it's making B.C. uncompetitive. It will go up another penny on gas next week, but that's almost certainly the last hike, which means its effect on curbing emissions won't grow any more.
And the Liberals now are a lot more interested in mega-projects that increase emissions, such as liquefied natural gas plants that run partly on natural gas.
The "axe the tax" NDP botched its climate-change policies completely the first time it took a serious look at the issue. And since then, it hasn't committed to much more than a vague promise to turn the carbon tax revenue into more transit.
The B.C. Conservatives scarcely believe climate change even exists.
Lake said the numbers released Wednesday show B.C. is on target to meet the interim target of a six per cent drop by 2012 (there's a two-year lag in the results, because of the analysis required).
Even if that is achieved, the changes required in all sectors of the economy and in all aspects of individual lives have to be more severe in the remaining eight years.
Lake pointed out B.C. doesn't have the option of just shutting down coalfired power plants for big gains, because there aren't any. So the rest of the cuts have to be made in building envelope improvements and transportation changes. That includes rapid transit, more buses and wholesale fleet conversions to natural gas.
Lake said meeting the target is "certainly something we're going to have to put our minds to. I don't deny that meeting the 2020 target is going to be a challenge."
But if we fail, so what? It was just an arbitrary number to begin with. The government of the day will just rewrite the law. The old target will disappear and a new achievable one will be set.
Whether B.C. cuts emissions by 33 per cent, or 10, or 15, nothing hinges on the exact amount.
The point was to prompt change. It needed to happen for a generation, but there's not much to suggest it will be forced over the years as it needs to be.