It’s a made-in-B.C. approach, and now the B.C. government is getting behind it.
On Feb. 24 at the board meeting of the Central Interior Logging Association, Environment Minister Terry Lake announced $2 million in funding over the next two years for the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative (COAC). The cooperative provides financing to member companies to modify vehicles which use fossil fuel. Drivers also receive training in ways to reduce fuel use and emissions. The reductions in greenhouse gases are tracked and used as carbon offsets, which are then sold, transferred or traded by COAC. The proceeds of the sales then return to the members as dividends.
“As we are here in the Prince George Railway and Forestry Museum,” Lake said, “it’s not difficult to be reminded of the impact of forestry on the region.
“We also can’t ignore the impact some of these vehicles have on the environment.”
He said COAC “meets all the targets for innovation.”
“We think it’s a seed that is going to grow.”
Mel Gulbranson of Gulbranson Logging in Vanderhoof says his first experience with COAC CEO George Stedeford was probably similar to most.
“I didn’t understand all the figures George had with him, but he said the idea would work and it would save us money.”
Gulbranson said his company has installed the tracking units on 27 vehicles so far and plans to do the rest of them at breakup.
“We use about 3.5 million litres of fuel in the company every year. If we can save 10 per cent of that, that’s 350,000 litres.
“At the price of fuel these days, that’s a lot of money.”
Logging is a very competitive industry, he reminded the others there, and any advantage helps.
“We’ll know more next year when we get the first set of results, but it sounds good.”
COAC chairperson MaryAnne Arcand remembered the first meeting she had with Lake about the initiative.
“I was right behind someone who wanted to create a new park or something, and their meeting went long. I went from having 20 minutes to having 10 minutes to having about five minutes.
“It was the fastest sell job I’ve ever done, but it obviously worked.”
Stedeford said one thing the companies needed to realize was that the impact on the environment didn’t necessarily end with their vehicles.
“The operators can make changes in their driving habits when they’re behind the controls of the heavy equipment, but they may drive their own vehicle differently as well.
“They see how our ideas can save money, and they pass those ideas on to their family and friends,” Stedeford said.
He thanked Lake for the support, and said it would help COAC immensely.
“This support will allow us to build and roll out the program on a long-term basis. The cost savings we as a group realize from this will allow you to re-invest in your company and your equipment.”