Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun, August 2, 2012
Private companies bought fewer carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions in 2011-12 than in the previous year from the Pacific Carbon Trust, showing the province's carbon corporation is a failure, according to a taxpayers' group.
In 2010-11, the carbon trust sold 7,385 tonnes to private clients such as Helijet Inter-national, Coast Hotels and the Vancouver Aquarium. But that figure dropped to 2,167 tonnes in 2011-12 after the trust lost West Coast Air as a client.
At $25 per tonne of carbon, the sales to private clients net-ted the Crown corporation only a little more than $54,000. The cash from private clients is dwarfed by money the Pacific Carbon Trust collects from the B.C. public sector of $18.2 mil-lion for nearly 730,000 tonnes of carbon credits.
Private companies are not obligated to buy carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, provincial public institutions - including hospitals, universities and schools - have to pay the trust for carbon credits under B.C. law in order to hypothetically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Jordan Bateman, a B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it was always the plan of the Pacific Carbon Trust to grow its private sec-tor business as outlined in the 2008 throne speech.
He said the failure of the trust to increase its private sec-tor base is good reason to shut it down. "The bottom line is this year only $50,000 worth of carbon credits were sold to [private clients]; the rest all came from taxpayer funds."
But Pacific Carbon Trust spokeswoman Hope Hickli said in an email: "While a component of [the trust's] business, private clients are not a major focus."
The taxpayers' federation has been critical of the design of the province's carbon credit scheme, where the Pacific Carbon Trust acts as a broker.
Said Bateman: "I think it's broken. I think it's one of those things you look at and say, 'Hey, we tried to be a world leader. It didn't pan out.' What-ever the goal behind it, it hasn't been accomplished, and by that measure, should be scrapped."
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