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

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

Giant rotating ice disk forms in Maine river

Ice disk that is roughly 100 yards wide has formed in the Presumpscot River

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

SUV wedged on top of car in B.C. mall parking lot has customers confused

The accident occurred Tuesday, no injuries were reported

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Razor burn: Gillette ad stirs online uproar

A Gillette ad for men invoking the #MeToo movement is sparking intense online backlash

Feds poised to bolster RCMP accountability with external committee

Long-anticipated move is the latest attempt at rebuilding the force following years of sagging morale

Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Most Read