The District of Elkford holds council meetings in the District Office next to the Community Conference Centre. File photo. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

The District of Elkford holds council meetings in the District Office next to the Community Conference Centre. File photo. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Elkford council votes to purchase carbon offsets at $25 per tonne of GHG emissions for 2021

The money will go into the district’s Energy Conservation Reserve Fund

The District of Elkford will be putting $25 per tonne of their corporate greenhouse gas emissions for 2021 into their Energy Conservation Reserve Fund, for a total of $20,300 for the year.

Council voted in favour of purchasing the ‘carbon offsets’ on March 28. The province describes carbon offsets on their website as “tradable credit that is used to counterbalance – or offset – greenhouse gas emissions.”

The district has been a participant in B.C.’s Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP), which wrapped up in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, according to a May 2021 email from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs included in the council documents.

According to the province’s website, CARIP “is a conditional grant program that typically provides funding to local governments that have signed the B.C. Climate Action Charter equal to 100 per cent of the carbon taxes they pay directly to support local government operations. The program encourages investment in climate action.”

The March 28 council documents show their greenhouse gas emission data going back to 2015. Those numbers are: 791 tonnes (2015), 797 tonnes (2016), 863 tonnes (2017), 812 tonnes (2018), 892 tonnes (2019), 768 tonnes (2020), 812 tonnes (2021).

For 2021, 812 tonnes multiplied by the $25 carbon offset purchases per tonne equals the around $20,300 being put into the conservation reserve fund for the year.

The report includes the amount of carbon tax paid by the district and received back as CARIP grants for the last five years. Those numbers are: $21,325 (2016), $22,371 (2017), $24,273 (2018), $24,273 (2019), $28,968 (2020).

In 2020, the province did not require CARIP reporting for 2019 due to the pandemic. The district was expecting to receive $31,991, but received the above-mentioned $24,273 for 2019, for a shortfall of $7,718.

After allocating the 2021 carbon offset purchase amount of $20,300, the reserve fund balance will be around $133,563. In 2018, $50,000 was transferred from the reserve fund for solar panels at the new district office building, and in 2020, $25,115.92 was transferred for the replacement of furnaces at the Recreation Centre.

The council report reads: “The purchase of carbon offsets can now be facilitated through the BC Greenhouse Gas Emissions Offset Portfolio (previously the Pacific Carbon Trust). Purchasing offsets in other geographical regions does not directly benefit the taxpayers of Elkford. Council has previously expressed concerns with the Carbon Neutral Program and would like to see a re-investment of these funds at the local level.

“Becoming carbon neutral through reductions in use is not achievable in the climate in which Elkford operates, and the only way we can achieve carbon neutral status is to purchase carbon offsets.

“The Province has previously replied to our actions by advising us that they have given us Level 3: Accelerating Progress on Charter Commitments ‘Local governments that achieve levels 1 and 2 and demonstrate significant corporate or community-wide climate action to reduce GHG emissions.”

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