Wood waste processed in New Westminster by Harvest Power has increasingly become fuel for the Lafarge cement plant and others

Greenhouses, cement plant all got carbon offset cash

Pacific Carbon Trust's Lower Mainland projects also suspect, MLA Simpson says

While a damning audit of B.C.’s Pacific Carbon Trust focused on carbon offset spending in far-flung corners of the province, public money from school and hospital budgets also fed projects across the Lower Mainland.

And a leading critic of the made-in-B.C. carbon offset strategy says the legitimacy of the local projects is just as questionable as the Darkwoods and Encana offsets B.C.’s Auditor General decided were not credible.

Bob Simpson, the independent MLA for Cariboo North, says in most cases the recipients either had already decided to spend on upgrades to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before carbon offsets were offered, or likely would have done so in any event.

Greenhouses in the Fraser Valley were among the recipients – Quiks Farm in Chilliwack, Randhawa Farms in Abbotsford, Sun Select Farms in Delta and Langley’s Katatheon Farms and Glenwood Valley Farms all got money to subsidize energy efficiency upgrades or to convert from natural gas to wood waste fuel.

“The greenhouses were responding to spikes in natural gas pricing,” Simpson said.

The entire sector should have been excluded, he argues, because farmers in other jurisdictions were doing the same thing without carbon offset subsidies.

Wood fuel was cheaper than natural gas.

Wood is offset-eligible because it’s counted as a lower-carbon fuel source – it’s assumed forests regrow and reabsorb carbon, unlike fossil fuels that add incremental new carbon to the atmosphere when burned.

But Simpson contends landfilling wood waste instead of burning it would sequester the carbon in the ground – a more effective choice if greenhouse gases are the overriding concern.

“There are a whole bunch of logic traps,” he said.

Kruger Products tissue mill in New Westminster also got carbon offset money to retrofit to burn wood waste fuel instead of natural gas, even though it also received a federal green transformation grant for the same purpose and therefore double-dipped, according to Simpson.

Lafarge’s Richmond cement plant, one of the region’s biggest carbon emitters, pledged to burn less coal and more wood waste-derived fuel with the help of an offset-funded retrofit.

“Fuel-switching in the cement sector is a business-as-usual practice,” Simpson said. “They’re all scrambling to try to get their energy costs down. It calls into question whether it’s a legitimate offset project.”

He said nobody appears to be monitoring Lafarge to ensure the cement plant actually burns the agreed amount of wood.

The Pacific Carbon Trust viewed its stable of projects in terms of verifiable greenhouse gas emission reductions that could be sold to government agencies or other buyers that needed to buy offsets.

But while the trust paid businesses to burn wood waste instead of natural gas in the name of fighting climate change, its calculations didn’t consider whether local air pollution might worsen as a result, which concerned air quality advocates.

“Off of wood waste you get ash,” Simpson noted. “You don’t get high particulate content off of natural gas. You’re trying to substitute one questionable practice for another.”

Other recipients included B.C. Transit, which bought hydrogen fuel cell buses for Whistler, and TransLink, which bought electric trolleys and hybrid buses.

In both cases, the Pacific Carbon Trust embraced them as offsets long after the transit agencies decided to spend the money.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said he doesn’t really care whether the offsets are credible or not, the entire logic of the push to carbon-neutral government is flawed.

“You’re trying to buy absolution with tax dollars,” Bateman said. “How do you blame a hospital for polluting? All they’re doing is heating a facility and sterilizing tools to save lives.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Police investigation underway at Cloverdale townhouse complex

Officers were in the 19000-block of 64th Avenue – near the Langley-Surrey border – Thursday evening

Langley man arrested in connection with $264,000 drug and cash bust in Grand Prairie

Police have warrants out for Christine Emes and Christopher Gilliat, also from Langley

PHOTOS: Latest addition to Mural Walk in downtown Langley a ‘showstopper’

Fort Langley artist Alex Stewart completed the artwork in two days

An unofficial contest to name a nameless Langley City park comes up with a winner

Councillor Nathan Pachal thought the ‘lonely’ mini-park deserved a name

One person treated for smoke inhalation after Langley fire

Township firefighters were called to Deer Creek Estates Wednesday night

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

Wind warning for White Rock, South Surrey

Gusts up to 90 km/h expected from Richmond to Langley Friday (Sept. 25) morning

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Most Read