This week I introduced a Private Members Bill to repeal the government’s “carbon neutral” legislation. This is the legislation that forces school districts, health authorities, universities, Community Living B.C., and other public agencies to take money out of their already too tight operating budgets and give it to the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) to buy carbon offsets. The Pacific Carbon Trust then uses this public money to help fund greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in the private sector.
I don’t believe that any of the $18 million that was clawed back from the public sector’s 2010 budgets got us any new (i.e. additional) greenhouse gas reductions to “neutralize” the public sector’s 2010 emissions.
Yet the most fundamental justification for the government’s “carbon neutral” claim is that the money taken away from classrooms and hospitals leveraged projects that created brand new, never-would-have-happened-without-tax-payer-money GHG reductions. But all of the projects the PCT funded with your tax money either had already happened before the trust came into existence, were in the works anyway, or would have happened without trust money — so there’s no justification for the government’s “carbon neutral” claim.
The fact that the government doesn’t come close to being carbon neutral doesn’t matter much anyway, as the entire public sector produces less than one per cent of B.C.’s total emissions. The premier’s jobs strategy alone will ensure that B.C.’s industrial emissions will skyrocket over the next decade making it impossible for the government to meet its legally required emissions reductions of 33 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 over 2007 levels.
The main reason I tabled my legislation this week is that the minister of environment has indicated the structure of the PCT is being reviewed with a view to looking at how to return the public sector’s offset money to that sector for public projects. This cannot be done without repealing the “carbon neutral” legislation which forces taxpayer money to be used for questionable private sector projects.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.