On November 19, 2013, B.C.'s Minister Responsible for Core
Review, Bill Bennett, announced that the province's carbon
offset program will be folded into the Ministry of
Environment's Climate Action Secretariat (CAS) while the
Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) is wound down. Minister Bennett
indicated that the closure of the PCT will result in savings of
approximately $5.6 million annually, part of the core review being
undertaken by the provincial government to find $50 million in cost
savings to meet the promise of a balanced budget in 2014. The
transition of the carbon offset program to CAS will also mean a
reduction in staff from 18 to 5.
The PCT is a Crown corporation established in 2008 to support
the growth of a carbon offset market in BC by supplying BC-based
emission offsets to its clients. The PCT is the sole provider
of offsets to BC's public sector, which is required to achieve
carbon neutral operations under the Carbon Neutral Government
Regulation. The price set by the provincial government
for purchasing carbon offsets from the PCT is $25 per tonne of
carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). The provincial
government's commitment to carbon neutrality covers the
provincial public sector including government offices,
post-secondary institutions, certain Crown corporations and
hospitals; in addition, special arrangements for carbon offsets are
in place for the K-12 education sector. To become carbon neutral,
public sector organizations must reduce emissions as much as
possible each year, measure the remainder and acquire the amount of
offsets required to get to zero. 2012 marked the third year
in a row that the provincial public sector has achieved carbon
neutrality. For 2012, the provincial public sector created 845,211
tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. From this total, 92,913
tonnes did not require offsetting; based on a price of $25 per
tonne of CO2e, the total investment for 2012 was
$18,807,450 for 752,298 tonnes of GHG emissions.
The PCT announcement left many stakeholders with questions
regarding the state of PCT's procurement program for 2013, the
fate of existing contracts with the PCT and offset projects
currently under consideration, transition plans, and the
anticipated supply and demand for offsets in 2014.
In a stakeholder information call held jointly by the PCT and
CAS on November 22, 2013, representatives from the PCT and CAS
reiterated the provincial government's commitment to carbon
neutrality in the public sector and achieving BC's greenhouse
gas emissions targets. During the call, PCT and CAS
representatives were able to provide the following guidance:
following the announcement, the PCT is resuming commercial
operations to finish its 2013 procurement program;
the PCT will be wound down by March 2014. During the transition
period, stakeholders should continue to deal with the same PCT
staff they have been dealing with to date;
existing contracts and current projects will be assigned to the
new procurement unit at CAS. The PCT indicated that it will
not be opening any existing contracts for renegotiation;
the PCT will continue to negotiate contracts for additional
projects as it completes its 2013 portfolio and confirmed that it
will be reaching out to proponents with existing term sheets and
those who have already submitted proposals; and
it is anticipated that 2014 will be another carbon neutral year
for BC's public sector, however no specifics are available at
this time. The focus is on delivering a carbon neutral 2013 and
once the new team is in place at CAS, they will turn their
attention to the 2014 procurement program.
CAS has indicated that its first objective is to maintain
consistency and continuity of the carbon offset program as it
transitions from PCT to CAS. It is anticipated that the new team
will be in place in early 2014, at which point CAS will be able to
provide stakeholders with greater certainty around not only
procurement processes going forward, but also on the supply and
demand for offsets in 2014 and beyond.
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