Pacific Carbon Trust should be scrapped
By Jordan Bateman
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: that’s what our parents taught us. But what if something is so broken, it can’t be fixed at all?
The Pacific Carbon Trust is broken beyond repair. It sucks millions of dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets every year and deposits them in the wallets of big business, all in the name of carbon neutrality. It’s time to shut the Pacific Carbon down.
Set up in 2008, and wholly owned by the provincial government, Pacific Carbon sells carbon credits to government agencies, businesses, not-for-profits and individuals looking to be carbon neutral. The the Trust then takes that money and buys carbon emission offsets from a variety of sources.
For example, a company that puts in a new boiler and saves 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions can sell that carbon credit to Pacific Carbon. Government agencies then buy that carbon credit to cover, or “off-set” their own carbon emissions.
Please help us serve you better by filling out this brief survey form. We thank you for your feedback and your commitment to local online news.
Put simply: it’s corporate welfare in the name of carbon neutrality. And it’s already cost taxpayers $19.4 million.
Of the 783,816 carbon credits sold by Pacific Carbon since 2009, 776,026 came from government and public sector organizations. That’s 99 per cent of all the credits sold. A grand total of 11 credits have been bought by individuals.
School districts across B.C. have paid more than $4.4 million for these carbon credits. That’s public money taken out of classrooms, and ultimately, taxpayer pockets. The University of British Columbia spent another $1.52 million.
Independent MLA Bob Simpson has done a lot of research on the corporate projects funded through Pacific Carbon with our tax dollars. It’s not good news.
One example: Encana, an energy company with more than a billion dollars in cash flow, received an undisclosed payment from Pacific Carbon in return for “reducing and eliminating flaring, incineration and venting in British Columbia,” according to BC Oil and Gas Commission documents (another Pacific Carbon client, incidentally). No other details have been released, says Simpson.
It wasn’t just Encana benefitting from tax dollars. Interfor, Canfor, TimberWest, Kruger Products, Sun Peaks, Neucel Pulp, Intrawest and Lafarge have all received PCT money—your tax dollars.
You have to feel bad for Coast Hotels, one of just seven B.C. businesses to buy carbon credits from the PCT. Hopefully their $2,500 didn’t go to any of their competitors, like the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside, the Whistler Westin, Whistler Marriott and Vancouver Four Seasons, all of which received Pacific Carbon dollars.
Yet, B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake and Opposition Leader Adrian Dix are both trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together. They want to fix Pacific Carbon, using millions of tax dollars on government greenwashing, by limiting Pacific Carbon to investing in public sector carbon reduction projects.
Interestingly, neither the BC Liberal Party nor the BC NDP buy carbon credits from Pacific Carbon to offset their own political operations. When it’s tax dollars, it’s okay—but when it’s campaign donations, carbon neutrality falls by the wayside.
Even environmentalists like Mark Jaccard, architect of the BC carbon tax and professor of sustainable energy at Simon Fraser University, and Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, have written articles criticizing Pacific Carbon.
Taxpayers should demand that Pacific Carbon be immediately scrapped. In an era of deficit budgets and trying to plug the HST funding gap, the BC Government needs to focus on core services and maximize the use of every tax dollar. Government carbon neutrality is a frill we cannot afford—and lining the pockets of corporate greenwashers makes no long-term environmental or fiscal sense.
Jordan Bateman is the British Columbia director of the Canadian Taxpayers.