B.C. VIEWS: Carbon neutral scheme is sinking

B.C.’s school districts are still paying $5 million a year to offset such nefarious activities as heating their schools

Using post-secondary and hospital funds to fund a gas flaring control program was the first step in the demise of the Pacific Carbon Trust.

VICTORIA – The day after Energy Minister Bill Bennett announced the demise of the Pacific Carbon Trust, the public accounts committee convened at the legislature to pound a few more nails into its carbon-sequestering coffin.

Assistant Auditor General Morris Sydor was there to defend his report from last March that concluded the B.C. government was not “carbon neutral” in 2010, because the trust paid $6 million for hastily arranged offset projects that were not valid.

An Encana Corp. gas flaring reduction project at Fort Nelson and a forest preserve in the Kootenays would have proceeded without assistance from $25 a tonne carbon fee imposed on hospitals, universities, colleges and until last year, school districts. In fact they did proceed without this subsidy. The government continues to deny this, but not many people outside the international carbon offset sales racket believe them.

The Pacific Carbon Trust’s functions will continue, Bennett said. Instead of a board of directors and 18 staff, five people headed by an assistant deputy minister will evaluate projects and bestow millions taken from college, university and health authority budgets each year.

B.C.’s school districts are still paying $5 million a year to offset such nefarious activities as heating their schools. But now the money goes into a “Carbon Neutral Capital Program,” and districts have to apply to get their money back for emission-reducing projects.

This is going so well, according to Bennett, that post-secondary institutions and health authorities will be converted to a similar program in the years ahead.

How is that school program going? Here are some examples.

The Coast Mountains School District around Terrace paid $66,452 for carbon offsets last year. It got back most of its three years of offset payments as a grant to complete a boiler upgrade for its Kitimat high school.

Abbotsford and Nanaimo school districts each have to pay about $100,000 a year. They got money back for school boiler upgrades as well, although local school officials say that would not likely have been the top priority for spending, if it hadn’t been for the program that forces districts to spend grants immediately on emission reduction.

Surrey school district paid out $585,000 last year, and also upgraded boilers. Vancouver’s pitch this year was for three electric cars.

Leaving aside the distortion of spending priorities caused by this restrictive tax-and-spend scheme, what happens when they run out of boilers to upgrade? And has it occurred to the government’s “carbon neutral” braintrust that those new boilers are still burning natural gas?

This program is about to be foisted onto universities and hospitals. Does anyone actually believe that heating hospitals and college classrooms is a key driver of global warming? Presumably our carbon czars know that 40 per cent of B.C.’s human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, and a few electric cars for school district staff aren’t going to change that.

And what happens when colleges and hospitals run out of boilers to modernize and insulation to upgrade? It won’t be long at this rate.

In hindsight, this “carbon neutral government” scheme is perhaps the worst single idea implemented in 12 years of B.C. Liberal government. Gordon Campbell’s grand vision of a province where government sets the green standard and the private sector economy follows has simply not worked.

The NDP presented a motion in April 2012 to relieve hospitals, colleges and universities of their carbon offset obligation. The idea was supported by a B.C. Liberal backbencher, who argued that B.C. should also scrap the carbon tax and quit pretending it can change the climate.

His name? Bill Bennett.

Tom Fletcher is legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalNews.com

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: DriveBC says highway re-opened after accident

Highway 22 closed for seven hours on Saturday

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Métis Flag flies in Trail on Louis Riel Day

Area students, officials and public attend flag raising at Trail City Hall

Early Trail borrowed a couple of names from the U.S.

Place Names: Connection between Trail and Butte, Montana

First Past the Post is the only option

Letter to the Editor by Dieter Bogs of Trail

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Trump says report on Khashoggi death expected in a few days

Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist for The Washington Post who was slain Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

Most Read