Carbon credits a major expense for Vancouver Island Health Authority

Taxpayer watchdog argues B.C.’s Pacific Carbon Trust actions amount to ‘corporate welfare’

The new Royal Jubilee Hospital patient care centre

The Vancouver Island Health Authority spent more than $880,000 last year to pay for carbon offsets, something the organization attributes to colder weather in 2011 and the expansion of its hospitals.

The 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by the authority is still six per cent lower than 2007 levels, when the province began requiring public bodies to purchase offsets through crown corporation Pacific Carbon Trust. VIHA hopes to reduce its carbon footprint by 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020.

“Heat recovery from chilled water systems has huge potential and is being implemented at Victoria General and Nanaimo Regional General hospitals,” said spokesperson Shannon Marshall, adding that VIHA is also exploring neighbourhood energy systems with the City of Victoria and Capital Regional District.

Pacific Carbon Trust buys carbon credits from energy-efficient companies in the private sector, and then sells them to school districts, health authorities and other government bodies to offset carbon output. Last year, the Trust sold $14 million in credits to public institutions. The system is meant to create an across-the-board neutral carbon footprint throughout the province.

“It’s basically corporate welfare,” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “The bottom line for me is $14 million in tax money. If it was being handed out in any other kind of grant, people would be up in arms about it.”

The carbon-trading program has led to B.C. becoming the third-largest carbon offset economy in North America. It is intended to fund green innovations and encourage reductions in energy consumption.

The program has, however, failed to blossom into an international exchange and has not attracted private industry.

Only $54,080, or 0.3 per cent, of carbon offset purchases last year came from the private sector.

“It’s a free-market failure,” Bateman said. “If it were any other business, we’d shut it down and move on.”

The City of Victoria has pledged to be carbon-neutral by the start of 2013. It plans to implement a kitchen scraps program next February that would remove an estimated 1,200 tonnes of carbon from its footprint annually, a reduction of 30 per cent from current levels.

But the city is also considering the purchase of offsets through Pacific Carbon Trust to meet their goal.

Council will consider its options this fall before finalizing the Carbon Neutral Plan by the end of 2012.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

New commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2+ rights draws mixed response

Critics say coin’s date of 1969 ‘equality’ is misleading

Time for round two of the Dunnet theatre seat sale

Fundraising commitee looks to sell remaining seats Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High

Canadian Coast Guard breaks ground on permanent search and rescue station in Victoria

Victoria-based SAR will do all rescues in local harbour and parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Police actions under investigation following Langford arrest

IIO investigates officer-related incidents that result in serious harm

Victoria woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

WATCH: Cougar saunters through Metchosin yard

Spring cougar sighting caught on camera

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Island Cup set for East Sooke on May 3-5

Off-road racing event expected to attract over 50 racers

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read