Pacific Carbon Trust Makes First Offset Delivery

The Pacific Carbon Trust has made its first delivery of carbon offsets to the B.C. government. The transaction, which consisted of 34,370 tonnes of emission offsets, represents an important landmark in the development of the Trust.

The Trust was created in 2008 as a B.C. crown corporation to facilitate the carbon offset aspect of the government’s environment policy. In particular, the Trust has a mandate to deliver offsets to Provincial Government ministries, all of which will be required to offset their carbon emission by 2010 under the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Targets Act. To date, the Trust has acquired offsets from 15 facilities in B.C. and aims to purchase over 700,000 tonnes of carbon offsets per year by 2011.

In a recent press release, Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap said he felt the Trust has been a success story so far and is helping to deliver on the government’s green economy initiative. Mr. Yap has reason to be excited about the Trust’s accomplishments given that it is delivering carbon offsets in only its first year of operations.

The wider impact of the Trust on B.C.’s green economy is also evident in the success of private offset businesses such as Offsetters. The Trust has purchased over 300,000 carbon offsets from the offset provider to be delivered over 5 years. The Trust also recently entered into an offset contract with Sempa Power Systems. Sempa has created a successful enterprise installing energy efficient hybrid heating systems in hotels and other buildings.

To date, the Pacific Carbon Trust has been an example of the Provincial Government’s ability to stimulate B.C.’s green economy through innovative projects and legislation designed to encourage private initiative. Megawatt will keep you posted on further developments for the Trust and the world of carbon offsets.

Offsetters: Your Official Carbon Offset Provider for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

In a previous post, I discussed the concept of carbon offsets and looked at the Pacific Carbon Trust in particular. The Trust is a new B.C. crown corporation that provides carbon emission offsets to businesses and government ministries. This week, the Megawatt spotlight is on Offsetters Clean Technology Inc. Offsetters is a B.C. based company and one of Canada’s leading offset providers. Notably, Offsetters was recently named the Official Carbon Offset Provider of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Offsetters was founded in 2005 by two professors at the University of British Columbia. The company has created numerous carbon offset projects to date, many of which increased the energy efficiency of existing businesses and encouraged the introduction of more efficient energy systems. For example, one offset project was based on the use of a new biomass boiler to heat greenhouses, while another project involved the purchase of a ground-source heat pump system for an extended care facility. Offsetters states that these projects would not have been possible without funds from carbon offset purchasers.

One reason Offsetters focuses on energy efficiency projects, rather than forestry based carbon offsets, is that it claims the carbon reductions from energy efficiency undertakings are more easily verifiable. In particular, a representative from the company suggested that carbon offsets based on tree planting may be less successful because when the trees eventually decompose, they release stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Offsetters insures that all carbon emission reductions from its projects are independently verified by a qualified engineering firm.

In addition to the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, Offsetters has already assembled an impressive list of clients. These include Vancity Capital, Bunting Coady Architects and Avison Young Real Estate Solutions, to name just a few. Offsetters also partners with West Jet and Air France to provide free carbon offsets to airline passengers. Patrons of either company may elect to have the carbon emissions from their flight offset by the airline at no cost to themselves.

Megawatt will keep you posted on new developments in the world of carbon offsets and other climate change solutions.

New Carbon Offset Opportunities from the Pacific Carbon Trust

The British Columbia Government’s Climate Action Plan will soon be providing new opportunities to organizations and entrepreneurs interested in undertaking environmental “carbon offset” projects. Carbon offsets are projects that reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere in order to counteract global warming. The economic concept behind carbon offsets is that businesses and organizations purchase “carbon credits” generated by the projects to cancel out their own carbon emissions. Businesses usually purchase carbon credits in order to improve public relations or meet regulatory standards.

The Provincial Government created the Pacific Carbon Trust  as a crown corporation to facilitate the carbon offset aspect of its Green Economy Initiative. In particular, the Trust was created to serve the needs of British Columbia Government ministries, all of which will be required to offset their carbon emission by 2010 under the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Targets Act. The Trust will purchase carbon credits from private suppliers and then sell them to government ministries and businesses.

The Trust recently asked potential carbon offset suppliers to provide information on the kinds of projects they would create and market to the Trust. The Trust expressed particularly strong interest in forestry projects that aim to offset carbon emissions by increasing tree density. All offset projects marketed to the Trust must be based in British Columbia. The Trust plans to purchase carbon credits from offset suppliers by the end of 2009 and will publish a detailed guide on how to submit project proposals to the Trust in July.

Stay tuned to the Megawatt blog for more on the Pacific Carbon Trust and other carbon offset opportunities.  


WWSHD? - What will Stephen Harper Do?

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government will be introducing the earliest budget ever on January 27, 2009. Aside from the obvious political reasons for the budget being introduced at this time, there is no question that the need for fiscal stimulus is becoming stronger every day. The government has been consulting with various groups and stakeholders as well as the provinces in anticipation of tabling the budget in 11 days.

One of the main things to remember is that the current crisis facing the world is double barrelled and involves both the economy and the environment.  However, addressing these crises does not require mutually exclusive solutions. The feds should concentrate on putting money into ensuring that a post-financial crisis Canadian economy is a green economy. I can’t say it any better than Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suziki Foundation in a piece published today in the Toronto Star:

With a few bold moves, a green stimulus package could turn Canada into a global renewable energy powerhouse. We're talking tens of thousands of new jobs in things like turbine manufacturing, home retrofits, solar panel installation, wind farm construction and transit-line building. These are skilled, made-in-Canada jobs that feed families, build wealth and help communities grow and prosper.

This point is exactly right, and Peter Robinson isn’t the only one to have made it recently. In a pre-budget submission to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, the Canadian Solar Industries Association (“CanSIA”) appealed to the Finance Minister to make “a more aggressive commitment to the deployment of renewable energy” and to “establish the renewable energy sector as a pillar of the nation’s new economic stimulus strategy”. In particular, CanSIA mentioned that the U.S. is expected to experience a solar boom as a result of the “supportive policies and programs that are currently in place or being developed" by Barack Obama and the incoming White House Administration and urged Minister Flaherty to act now to take advantage of favourable forecasts by RBC Capital Markets and Merril Lynch regarding the future of the clean technology and renewable energy fields. 

CanSIA proposed that in the 2009 Federal Budget, the Federal Government do the following as part of the renewable energy and economic stimulus strategy:

  • Create an electrical grid infrastructure upgrade program. CanSIA proposed that the federal government establish a program to partner with the provinces in funding such upgrades.
  • Make a clear commitment to renewable energy through establishment of renewable energy targets as well as streamlined federal procurement processes.

Now is the time for the federal government to show leadership and foresight. The silver lining in the economic crisis is a very real opportunity to establish Canada as a leader and renewable energy powerhouse. Leading by example and being innovative and progressive are all things that Canada is good at and that Canadians are proud to be known for, let’s hope Stephen Harper’s government seizes this opportunity to make Canada’s new economy a green economy.