In your story “BC Climate Action Charter Debated” last week Mr. Love is quoted as saying “Municipalities and regional districts are required to be carbon neutral only if they are signatories to the climate action charter.”
Actually the climate action charter is a voluntary document. It does not create legal requirements. Clause 9 of the Charter specifically says that it has “no legal effect”.
So if Mr. Love intended to suggest that there is some legal requirement for the Town of Golden to achieve carbon neutrality that is incorrect.
Golden does not need to be a signatory to the climate action charter to improve its air quality and working through the climate action charter is not the best way of achieving lower carbon emissions locally.
Golden plans to purchase carbon offsets in 2013. However, in Golden the poor air quality is related to the emission of particulate matter and not the emission of carbon dioxide. It is known that certain forms of particulate, including those emitted in Golden, can cause serious health problems.
The purchase of carbon offsets means that Golden taxpayers are sending payments to the Pacific Carbon Trust because we are not meeting some theoretical carbon neutrality target. Sending money to the Trust does nothing to address the real problem in Golden, the problem of particulate emissions.
The Pacific Carbon Trust is really just a vehicle to transfer money from taxpayers to industry. Virtually all the payments into the Pacific Carbon Trust come from schools, hospitals, municipalities and the like – in other words, from the taxpayer.
Money is then paid out of the Trust to companies – Encana, La Farge, Canfor – for supposed reductions those companies have achieved in greenhouse gas emissions or for projects they have undertaken to improve their carbon footprint.
This model is not an effective strategy for dealing with carbon reduction in Golden. The way to deal with greenhouse gas emissions at the municipal level is for the Town to reduce its fuel consumption by being more careful about the operation of motor vehicles, examining the amount of travel undertaken, and by promoting the wood stove exchange program.
Purchasing carbon offsets really boils down to allowing ourselves to emit more greenhouse gasses that we should, while paying someone else money because they reduced emissions elsewhere.
The proposal of the Air Quality Committee and Councillor Hern to spend the funds that would be diverted to the Pacific Carbon Trust on our own wood stove exchange program makes far more sense that the policy of the current Town administration to send our tax dollars to Vancouver for redistribution to industry.
The Town office is devoting considerable staff time to the climate action charter. This expenditure is unnecessary and wasteful in the current economic climate when we have a long-standing and highly qualified Air Quality Committee in place which has specific expertise in the area.
The Town can achieve better results for our environment by keeping tax dollars at home and addressing our own air quality issues.
Bruce F. Fairley