January 25, 2016 by Canadian Underwriter
British Columbia’s 131 provincial public sector organizations generated 46,000 tonnes fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in 2015 compared to the baseline year of 2010 – a reduction equivalent to the emissions produced by 9,800 cars in one year.
The provincial Ministry of Environment released the statistic in a new report showcasing B.C.’s first five years of “carbon neutral government leadership,” the ministry said in a press release on Friday. The report, titled Leading by Example – The First Five Years of Carbon Neutral Government in British Columbia, reviews the first five years of B.C.’s carbon neutral government program.
Since the program began in 2008, the ministry said, the province has invested $53.4 million to purchase 4.5 million tonnes of offsets. Capital expenditures made by offset projects contributed a total of $248.2 million to the B.C. gross domestic product and created 2,903 jobs measured in person-years, the ministry reported.
“B.C.’s achievement of carbon neutral government five years in a row is an unprecedented accomplishment,” said Mary Polak, B.C.’s Minister of Environment. “Big and small organizations are piloting new technologies, developing innovative approaches and assembling an invaluable data collection system. I applaud businesses for taking actions needed to achieve carbon neutrality, keeping B.C. a climate action leader.”
Jordan Sturdy, parliamentary secretary for energy literacy and the environment for the Minister of Environment, said that over the past five years, it has been shown that counting the cost of carbon pollution is good for both the environment and the economy.
Carbon neutrality is one of many strategies for encouraging emissions reductions, the ministry noted in the release. In B.C., all hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, Crown corporations, and government ministries and agencies have been carbon neutral for their operations since 2010 for their paper, fleet and building emissions. Government ministries and agencies are also carbon neutral for their business travel.
To become carbon neutral, an organization, business or government measures its carbon footprint, reduces that footprint as much as possible each fiscal year, offsets any emissions that cannot be reduced and reports on GHGs.
On a related note, on Monday, British Columbians have an opportunity to participate in the second public consultation on the development of the province’s new Climate Leadership Plan, the environment ministry announced in a separate press release on Sunday. Citizens, First Nations, local governments and organizations can participate in the 60-day engagement process through the Climate Leadership Plan website at http://engage.gov.bc.ca/climateleadership.
A new consultation guide also presents the current status of government’s climate actions, a summary of public feedback from the first engagement, as well as a snapshot of the Climate Leadership Team’s recommendations. Sector-specific consultations are also taking place. The final Climate Leadership Plan, to be released this spring, will include “new climate actions to drive down emissions while supporting a growing economy.”