VANCOUVER -The provincial government is reaffirming its commitment to being the first carbon-neutral government in North America through a new $5-million capital program that's available to school districts for energy-efficiency projects that will lower their carbon emissions, Environment Minister Terry Lake announced.
Starting in 2012/13, the new K-12 energy-efficiency capital program will be available to boards of education through the Ministry of Education. The amount of available funding has been set to be equal to or greater than the total paid by school boards each year for purchases of carbon offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust.
In addition to the new funding, Lake also announced program enhancements for all public sector organizations:
- Eliminating Measurement Costs: SMARTTool administration costs will no longer be charged to public sector organizations, resulting in $850,000 cost savings that will be absorbed by the Pacific Carbon Trust.
- Pacific Carbon Trust Advisory Panel: To ensure the Pacific Carbon Trust's offset portfolio meets the needs of stakeholders, the Pacific Carbon Trust will create an advisory panel. The panel will play an ongoing role in reviewing the structure and diversity of the carbon offset portfolio and provide suggestions regarding future offset opportunities. The panel will include representatives from the private and public sectors that purchase offsets from PCT, as well as select carbon-industry experts.
- Streamlining current system: The establishment of a link that will feed energy data directly into the SMARTTool to reduce administrative costs associated with measuring emissions.
The enhancements are in response to stakeholder engagement that took place between October and December of last year and included leaders from the academic, health care and other public sector organizations. http://bit.ly/HLVoHj
Head of the B.C. School Trustees Association, Michael McEvoy -
"B.C. boards of education strongly support the reduction of GHG emissions. The funds will allow us to invest in energy efficiencies for our schools that will save money, save energy and improve the environment for our students now and into the future."
Minister of Environment, Terry Lake -
"Innovative public policy like carbon-neutral government requires consultation, collaboration and a belief that by doing what we can at home we can impact global warming. That's why we measure our emissions, reduce them to the greatest extent possible and get the public sector to zero by investing in reduction projects at home and across B.C."
Minister of Education, George Abbott, "B.C. schools are an important part of our carbon neutral government and provide an ideal opportunity for students to participate in climate action leadership. This funding will allow students to continue this participation as the schools continue their investment in energy efficiency."
Carbon neutral quick facts:
* The new K-12 energy efficiency program will be operated under the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement framework, which includes partnerships with BC Hydro and FortisBC.
* The Carbon Neutral Government Regulation came into effect in December 2008. It sets out details concerning measurement, reporting and offsetting emissions by public-sector organizations that are required to comply with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act.
* In 2010, B.C. became the first province or state in North America to take full responsibility for its emissions. Government's approach to carbon neutrality drives down greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, reduces energy costs and produces savings public sector organizations can reinvest in energy saving projects. Those projects, in turn, create jobs in B.C.'s clean energy sector.
* Since 2008, B.C. has committed $75 million to public sector energy projects through the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement (PSECA) as additional funding for public sector energy projects. $25 million has been provided through PSECA and through other funds to school boards.
* To date, school district projects have achieved annual energy cost savings of more than $12.6 million, while reducing GHGs by over 35,600 tonnes.
* A carbon offset represents one tonne less of carbon dioxide (C02) in our atmosphere. It is created when an organization is supported to invest in real emissions-reducing activities (called an offset project).
* BC Newsroom - Ministry of Environment: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/environment-1
Carbon Neutral Basics
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What does carbon neutral mean?
Carbon neutral means taking responsibility for the greenhouse gases emitted by our activities, whether it's an individual, a business or a government. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions.
Q. How do you achieve net zero carbon emissions?
The provincial public sector has taken full responsibility and achieved 'net zero' carbon emissions by measuring its emissions, reducing them as much as possible, and offsetting the rest.
Q. What is a carbon offset?
A carbon offset represents one less tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the earth's atmosphere. It is created when an organization is supported to invest in a real emissions-reducing activity, which is called an offset project.
Q. Where are the offsets purchased?
The offsets are purchased through the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT), which is a Crown corporation that delivers made-in-B.C. green house gas offsets that help organizations and the public sector reduce their carbon footprint.
Q. Is this the only way to purchase offsets?
Yes. Pacific Carbon Trust provides access to high-quality, B.C.-based carbon offsets that are in compliance with the emission offsets regulation established under the British Columbia Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act.
Q. Shouldn't we try to reduce emissions to the point that we don't need to buy offsets?
Carbon emissions are a by-product of economic activity that takes place around the world.
B.C.'s public sector is leading by example to reduce its carbon emissions, but we can't eliminate them entirely. What we can do is measure our emissions, reduce them where possible, and purchase offsets that reduce carbon emissions at home or somewhere else, thereby contributing net zero emissions to the global atmosphere.
Q. Is buying offsets necessary to be carbon neutral?
Yes. It's based on the principle that, since climate change is a global problem, an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally. It doesn't matter where you cut carbon - it just matters how much. That's why B.C.'s public sector measures its carbon emissions, reduces them where possible, and offsets the balance by investing in carbon reduction projects.
Q. Why is it important to be carbon neutral?
Striving to be carbon neutral helps B.C. tackle global climate change. Climate change risk factors include severe economic, social and environmental consequences that have already cost B.C. millions of dollars in lost jobs, economic decline and have impacted communities. Carbon neutrality is about leadership - putting government's house in order as it asks businesses, communities and individuals to do the same.
Q: What is the Province doing to help average British Columbians cut carbon?
The Province encourages British Columbians to visit LiveSmart BC for information on incentives for your home or business, as well as information about easy and free ways to save energy and money.
Ministry of Environment
250 812-0495 (cell)