The first move in the provincial government’s core review, designed to reduce overall government costs, targets the Pacific Carbon Trust. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
The government is planning to move the trust into the ministry of environment, and reduce its staff and administrative costs. It would be far better to eliminate it.
Bill Bennett, the minister responsible for the review, says the move will save $5.6 million annually by 2015-16. The carbon trust’s staff will be reduced to five from 18.
Unfortunately, the government is still spinning the half-truth that the Pacific Carbon Trust is actually reducing carbon emissions. All it really does is boost the cost of government projects and initiatives. New schools, for exaple, cost more because all government agencies are required to buy carbon offsets so that the province can claim that it is totally carbon neutral.
The offsets it buys, at $25 per tonne, are purchased from the private sector — usually from large carbon emitters (such as Encana, a natural gas producer) to build projects that reduce the amount of carbon they emit. What is left unsaid is that most of these projects would likely be built anyway. The only concrete accomplishment of these forced offset purchases, all of which are paid for by taxpayers, is that they may speed up the timetable of some projects.
NDP leader Adrian Dix, who fumbled on a number of occasions during the provincial election campaign, was strikingly clear on the Pacific Carbon Trust. He would eliminate it. He made this case, even as he was trying to appeal to more Green-minded voters on southern Vancouver Island, where the Green Party is strongest and where the party actually elected an MLA, Andrew Weaver in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
The current BC Liberal government continues to mouth platitudes about carbon reduction, even as it proposes a number of LNG plants that would certainly boost the amount of carbon emitted in B.C. However, if the plants are built and natural gas begins to replace coal as the source of electricity in countries like China, worldwide carbon emissions will decrease.
That type of effort towards reducing carbon is far superior to the smoke and mirrors of the Pacific Carbon Trust.