Changes coming to B.C. carbon offsets

The B.C. government's carbon neutrality program is working, but it needs changes, Environment Minister Terry Lake says. School and hospital funds are being diverted to carbon reduction projects at energy, cement and forest companies.

Environment Minister Terry Lake watches an animated climate change course created for B.C. public servants. See sidebar story below for a link to samples of the course

The B.C. government’s carbon neutrality program is working, but it needs changes, Environment Minister Terry Lake says.

Lake spoke to a conference of senior federal officials in Victoria Monday, reminding them that B.C. is the first state or provincial government in North America to be “carbon neutral,” requiring public services to offset carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by buying credits from the government’s Pacific Carbon Trust.

The offset payments are used to fund emission reduction projects, and to create an incentive for managers to find ways to reduce fuel consumption. The requirement covers not only provincial ministries but school districts and health authorities, and Lake acknowledges that has been controversial because beneficiaries include private resource companies.

“I think the principles are correct, but the implementation needs to be worked on,” Lake said in an interview Monday. “I think people would prefer that when we see public institutions putting money into the Pacific Carbon Trust for instance, that there should be a direct correlation coming back to those organizations to help them reduce their carbon footprint.”

The Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) was set up by the B.C. government to collect offset funds from government operations and select projects that cut carbon emissions.

In 2010 the PCT collected $4.4 million from B.C.’s 60 school districts, to compensate for emissions that mostly come from school buildings. School bus emissions are exempt, but other vehicle emissions must be reported and offset.

The PCT has funded projects to reduce emissions of some of B.C.’s biggest industrial carbon dioxide sources, which are so far exempt from B.C.’s carbon tax. They include Encana Corporation’s natural gas operations in northeastern B.C., the Lafarge cement plant in Richmond,  and forest companies Canfor and TimberWest.

Lake said the B.C. government has started working on ways for public money goes to public projects.

“I’m not sure where we’ll end up with it, but I think generally what we’ll see is some sort of fund within the Pacific Carbon Trust that’s dedicated to schools, to hospitals, so that money comes back to them to help reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.

Online climate course released

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions has released the first instalments of a climate change course prepared for B.C. government employees.

Samples of “Climate Insights 101” have been posted at the institute’s website. The series uses animation, interviews and website links to set out the data on climate change, and is available free for educational purposes.

“People who don’t work in science are often intimidated by it, so these courses will go a long way towards demystifying the physics of climate change we are seeing,” said Dr. Tom Pedersen, the institute’s executive director. “It makes traditionally tough subject matter accessible as well as entertaining.”

PICS was established in 2008 with a $90 million endowment from the B.C. government to the University of Victoria, the largest endowment to a university in Canadian history.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Submitted
BC VOTES 2020: John Rustad re-elected in Nechako Lakes riding

The result is based on preliminary vote count and the final results will be available after Nov.6

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read