Langley City will set aside some money to compensate for its greenhouse gas emissions but will wait to decide how to spend that money until it can determine whether the provincial government is blowing hot air.
The City is one of the communities that signed onto the provincial government’s Climate Action Charter, a carbon neutral pledge and has been looking into how to accomplish this. But the B.C. government hasn’t provided specific guidance on what communities do about carbon offsets though the deadline to be carbon neutral was 2012.
“The best thing for us would be to set it aside until we get some clarity,” said Mayor Peter Fassbender.
Emissions are calculated annually.
“No municipalities can reduce emissions to zero,” commented consultant Russ Haycock.
Some communities buy carbon offsets from organizations and companies such as Pacific Carbon Trust, a B.C. Crown corporation, to compensate for the carbon they produce. The offsets are then invested in green projects with verifiable results lowering greenhouse gases.
The Pacific Carbon Trust has provided funds for projects at greenhouses in Langley and Chilliwack, a cement plant in Richmond, a hotel and resorts in Whistler, Vancouver and Kamloops.
Other carbon offset firms invest elsewhere in the world.
Councillors were concerned about buying offsets that may end up going to projects abroad when there are spending priorities here. At Monday’s council meeting they decided to put $20,000 into a reserve fund for its 2012 emissions.
The City produced about 1,100 tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2010 and is working to reduce that amount. Offsets cost $25 per tonne.
“The cost to become carbon neutral is about $20,000 [for this year],” Haycock said.
The new Timms Community Centre the City will be building is expected to produce 800 to 1,000 tonnes, depending on how it’s constructed and how energy efficient (the amount does not include those produced by contractors the City hires).
Council debated different options including buying offsets or setting aside the money in a reserve fund and attempting to invest it in more energy efficient City infrastructure. The province is unclear about whether that’s allowed.