Golden is one of 180 municipalities in British Columbia who are signatories to the BC Climate Action Charter. In fact, there are only eight communities in the province who have not signed their names to the charter — and Golden may become number nine.
It was proposed by Coun. Keith Hern, in the last regular open council meeting, that Golden withdraw itself from the voluntary commitment, as he sees no benefit for the town.
“The BC Climate Action Charter has done nothing to improve the quality of the air we breathe and is a complete waste of tax payer’s money,” he said.
The charter is not legally binding, and municipalities are not required to remain a part of it, although no community has ever removed itself before.
Council has decided to wait until they have a better understanding of the costs and benefits of the charter before making any decisions.
“The Town’s commitments to the climate action charter are, first, to become carbon neutral, with respect to its emissions in 2012,” said David Love, manager of strategic initiatives for the Town. “Municipalities and regional districts are required to be carbon neutral only if they are signatories to the climate action charter.”
The cost to the Town to become carbon neutral, is the purchase of carbon offsets, one for each ton of continuing emissions.
Hern proposed the Town no longer use funds to purchase carbon offsets. It is projected that the Town would spend $14,000 to purchase carbon offsets from Pacific Carbon Trust in 2013, funds Hern thinks could be better spent on a local wood stove exchange program.
“The principle benefit of being a signatory is that for every expenditure that the Town makes on energy, where it pays the carbon tax, the signatories receive back 100 per cent of that carbon tax paid,” said Love.
The eight municipalities in B.C. who are not signatories to the charter also pay that tax, and get none of it back.
Currently the carbon tax is $35 per gigajoule, which means Golden can expect to see a rebate for 2012 in the amount of $12,000 to $14,000. The tax has risen by $5 every year, meaning that in the past the rebate has been smaller. The average rebate between 2008 and 2011 was $6,297.50 per year.
More research into what it would mean to the Town to pull out of the BC Climate Action Charter is being done, and council will discuss Hern’s proposals again in the future.