Originally, I thought the idea of carbon neutrality was reasonable and that positioning B.C. on the forefront of “carbon offsetting” via the Pacific Carbon Trust was a proactive approach to this emerging economic opportunity.
Now I’m wondering if “carbon neutral government” isn’t really just a smoke screen for the government’s failure to achieve any real reductions in B.C.’s overall emissions. I also wonder if the carbon offset “industry” isn’t simply another scheme to scam money from investors and taxpayers.
After questions were raised about Encana (one of B.C.’s largest carbon emitters) getting taxpayer money from the PCT for “reducing” its greenhouse gas emissions, the PCT did not issue separate press releases for its other industrial projects. Instead, it rolled them up into a single document that was posted on the PCT web page without fanfare. Little wonder, as each one of the PCT’s offset projects doesn’t withstand even modest scrutiny. To justify taking money away from classrooms and hospitals to give to the private sector, the PCT must prove every project it funded would not have proceeded without our tax money subsidizing it. I don’t believe any of the projects our tax money subsidized resulted in a decrease in carbon emissions that wasn’t already happening or would have happened without the PCT’s involvement. Other projects are being subsidized by the federal government for emission reductions, raising questions about double dipping. Others are comparable to projects being undertaken in a given sector without “offset” money being used as a carrot, making it hard for the PCT to prove its projects aren’t “business as usual.”
Before another cheque is cut to the PCT from school boards, health authorities and other public agencies, the B.C. Legislature must be allowed to thoroughly re-examine the government’s “carbon neutral” objective and the structure of the Pacific Carbon Trust. Money is too tight to be stealing it away from classrooms and hospitals to subsidize private sector projects that would have happened anyway.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.