Becoming carbon neutral is proving an elusive target, though one the District of Sicamous continues to pursue.
In 2009, the District of Sicamous signed on to the B.C. government’s Climate Action Charter, which encouraged the 180 signatory local governments to become carbon neutral (achieving zero carbon emissions through reduction and/or the purchase of offsets) by 2012.
The Climate Action Revenue Incentive program was created to help offset the carbon tax for charter signatories.
Earlier this month, district staff presented to council the Final Climate Action Progress Report. The report explains the municipality was unable to become carbon neutral in 2012. But staff notes the district will continue to look at projects to help reduce carbon emissions in 2013, and that the official community plan provides “overall direction in working towards creating a complete, compact and more efficient community.”
“The District of Sicamous will not become carbon neutral for the 2012 reporting period, but will be working on reducing the GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions with the improvement of new walking corridors and sidewalks, additional replacement of existing lighting to LED lighting, and the possibility of adding solar generation to some buildings and structures,” states the report.
The report states the district produced 310 tonnes of CO2e in 2012, compared to 18,395 tonnes in 2010. The report does not encourage the purchase of carbon credits to offset the 310 tonnes, saying local governments have the option of stating they are “making progress towards carbon neutrality.”
District administrator Heidi Frank says the effort to become carbon neutral takes up a significant amount of staff time, and that the district is currently looking into software that will help to meet the province’s reporting requirements.
“There have been many discussions and meetings held with the province regarding this program, and numerous municipalities, including ours, are asking the province for either help, or leeway in becoming carbon neutral,” Frank explained in an email. “The province has been quite respectful of the constraints this puts on municipalities, and has suggested that as long as we work to neutrality that would be acceptable.”
Asked if the district would continue the effort towards carbon neutrality should the province scrap the program after the May 14 election, Frank said staff would have to assess the benefits and gains of the program versus what Sicamous already does as a responsible government.
The City of Salmon Arm was also unable to become carbon neutral in 2012. To have met the target, the city would have had to purchase an estimated $31,590 worth of carbon offsets. Instead of purchasing carbon credits, council opted to take a “wait-and-see approach,” as advised by staff.