December 15, 2011 Features & Images » Feature Story

Back to the Drawing Board for Carbon Neutral Government 

As BC Liberals revisit their approach to a carbon neutral public sector, some advice they'll likely get.

click to enlarge features_featurestory1.jpg

Page 6 of 7

Dowlatabadi said the government is genuinely interested in this recommendation.

"I applaud what the Climate Action Secretariat have been doing," he said. "They've been pioneers and they should be applauded for what they've been going. Nothing is perfect the first time out.

"What we should be doing is getting feedback on how to improve it, rather than to bash it so that it goes away altogether."

It's unclear when the government's review of the carbon neutral strategy will be concluded. Lake said he's not going to put a timeline on it, other than to say that "Hopefully, into the new year we'll have a lot of these things wrapped up."

Like much of the B.C. Climate Action Plan, it's difficult to say exactly where carbon neutral government is headed or when it's likely to get there. But given the strategy's symbolic importance, a public debate around these proposed solutions can only be good for overall climate policy.

A symbolic gamble:

Despite the controversies that surround the program, carbon-neutral government is really a bit of a sideshow when it comes to climate policy. Total public sector emissions represent about one per cent of the total GHGs emitted by the province. Public sector organizations spend less than one per cent of their operating budgets on offsets.

But the symbolism of the strategy was always more important to government than the actual emissions or dollars involved. "Our government believes it is important to model and to lead and to show British Columbians that this is an important, critical issue," John Yap, former minister of state for climate action, said in the legislature in October.

But many who follow climate policy note that symbolism cuts both ways. While a successful carbon-neutral government could become a positive icon, if that policy fails, or becomes associated with unpopular messages — that tax dollars are being taken from classrooms and operating theatres and given to profitable corporations or wasted on offsets that don't reduce real emissions — the failure could set back the whole fight against climate change.

The goal of a carbon-neutral B.C. government

was first proclaimed in 2007, as part of then-premier Gordon Campbell's sweeping array of climate change initiatives.

By going carbon neutral, the government vowed, it would accomplish a number of goals. It would lower emissions, publicize the importance of fighting climate change, set an example for the rest of the province, foster the development of green technology and a low-carbon economy, and cash in on an expected boom in carbon trading and carbon offsets.

B.C.'s public sector — schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and Crown corporations as well as core government — were ordered to measure their carbon emissions and reduce them where they could.

Readers also liked…

  • Death in the Alpine

    Social media is changing our relationship to risk, with deadly consequences
    • Jun 10, 2018
  • Getting Lost On A Bike

    Mountain biking? Nay. Touring? Not quite. Hiking? Heck no! Welcome to the world of bikepacking
    • Aug 12, 2018

Latest in Feature Story

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation