CITY TAXPAYERS are to pay $35,000 for carbon being released into the atmosphere. The amount is contained in the city’s draft 2013 budget and follows a 2008 commitment made by the city to be carbon neutral by 2012.
That commitment meant each tonne of Co2 released into the atmosphere during the course of city business must be offset by a carbon credit – which accounts for one tonne of carbon that didn’t exist, but could have, elsewhere.
“We’re not carbon neutral,” said the city’s sustainability coordinator Tara Irwin. “In order to become carbon neutral as per this program is to bring it down to zero.”
In 2009, the city calculated it emitted 1,400 tonnes of Co2 from its operations. As the price tag per carbon credit from B.C.’s crown corporation that sells them is $25, $35,000 has been slated in the city’s 2013 draft budget to cover the expense, although other options for becoming carbon neutral exist.
Virtually every BC municipality signed up to become become carbon neutral, the premise of which states communities each have a role to play in addressing climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gasses, like Co2, emitted into the atmosphere.
The B.C. crown corporation that sells the credits in B.C. is Pacific Carbon Trust – which purchases carbon offsets that comply with a set of regulations for how the offsets are created and calculated.
“Under the charter we’re not committed to buying from the Pacific Carbon Trust,” said the city’s sustainability coordinator Tara Irwin, adding the province encourages purchasing from the company because credits are held at a certain standard.
Other options for becoming carbon neutral include buying credits on the open market – the price of which are not regulated like in B.C. — or developing carbon offset programs with the city.
“It’s a pretty stringent process to just develop (one),” said Irwin. “It’s also hard to quantify in house projects.”
Examples of city projects that could reduce carbon emissions don’t come cheap either, with Irwin citing an example like buying a whole fleet of electric vehicles.
Organic waste diversion is another project accepted under the charter, said Irwin, adding the city’s program wouldn’t add up to something substantial currently.
The last option would be for council to take back its commitment completely and save the money, said Irwin.
But reneging on a commitment isn’t looked upon favourably, especially when the city applies for grant money from higher governments which are increasingly assessing carbon neutrality, said Irwin.