Thursday March 3, 2011


BC Politics

Carbon Offset Schemes Questionable

BC Green Leader calls on provincial government to enter carbon tax credit market

Submitted by office of the BC Green Party


s Translink and Premier Clark spar over funding important transportation projects such as the Evergreen Line, BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk has an innovative solution to this impasse.

The BC government set up the Pacific Carbon Trust as a Crown Corporation 'to deliver made-in-BC greenhouse gas offsets.' The government also mandated carbon neutral targets for local governments and government ministries, agencies and Crown Corporations.

The Pacific Carbon Trust administers purchasing offsets from qualifying projects and selling those offsets to businesses and government entities. The government agencies are required to buy offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust to meet mandated carbon
reduction targets.

"A number of the projects that have qualified for offsets are questionable," says Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party of BC.

"Recently, the Pacific Carbon Trust paid Encana one of the most profitable fossil fuel companies in the province to cut flaring at its wells.

"This is something the province should have and could have simply mandated as part of natural gas drilling regulations. The idea of tax-payer revenues being used to subsidize a highly profitable industry is insulting to hard working, carbon tax paying British Columbians.

"It is outrageous that Clark has denied Vancouver municipalities the option of adding a small carbon surcharge to the sale of fuel to help fund the Evergreen Line after saying those same local governments had to come up with $400 million to fund their share of the investment. It is even more unacceptable that her government subsidizes big emitters through the Pacific Carbon Trust while requiring municipal governments to buy offsets when that money could be used to invest in transit or other measurable greenhouse gas reductions in their operations.

"Many of the carbon offset schemes are questionable. Pacific Carbon Trust's 'showcase' of projects that have qualified for offset payments includes not only Encana but major hotel chains and forestry and cement companies. It represents the transfer of public funds to the
private sector for doing what should be required of them through legislation and regulation.

"It also includes questionable schemes like selling of commitments not to cut down trees. The whole business model has serious undertones of environmental ransoming.

"Building public transit infrastructure, creating the opportunity for drivers to park their cars and take transit has a direct tangible effect on greenhouse gas emissions. If the province were truly looking for a way to offset emissions they could find no better investment and carbon credit purchasing opportunity than transit.

"For this reason the Green Party of BC is urging Translink to enter the carbon credit market. Every passenger on a bus, Skytrain or Seabus represents greenhouse gases saved from driving. Translink should monetize this tangible contribution to a cleaner planet.

"Premier Clark should immediately instruct the Pacific Carbon Trust to stop subsidizing profitable industries and instead purchase credits from Translink for desperately needed projects. Mandating that the trust invest in such a tangible, visible and measurable project which directly contributes to reduced carbon emissions is a better fit for a low carbon future than paying large multinational companies to do what should be required by law," says Sterk.

About the Green Party of BC
The Green Party of BC is the only major party in BC today with no debt. A Green economy would run on the principles of triple-bottom-line accounting, rewarding organizations and individuals that practise environmental, social and economic sustainability and aligning government expenditure decisions with citizens' wishes.


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