B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions are still going up, but they are substantially offset by forest preservation projects, a point Environment Minister George Heyman made in his meetings at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow this week.
Speaking to reporters from Scotland Wednesday, Heyman summed up the 26th climate conference as having “some hope as well as a great sense of urgency in the sense of the climate crisis.” He addressed a meeting of the Scottish North American Business Council Oct. 3, outlining the latest updates to the CleanBC plan to reduce transportation, building and industrial emissions, and how B.C. has produced independently verified and internationally recognized forest offsets.
B.C. maintains a carbon offset program that measures greenhouse gas reduction activities in agriculture, oil and gas and forestry, where preservation of coastal areas that were intended to be logged represent a large part of the offsets. The province’s latest greenhouse gas report showed emissions up five per cent in 2019, compared to the baseline year of 2007 when B.C.’s carbon tax was implemented. But taking into account forest offsets, the increase is only two per cent from 2007 levels, according to B.C.’s emissions inventory.
The forest offsets are mainly in the B.C. Central and North Coast, areas designated as the Great Bear North, Great Bear South and Great Bear Haida Gwaii. Other offset projects are in the Quadra Island Forestland and the Cheakamus Community Forest in the Whistler area.
“We’ve sold carbon offsets to a number of B.C. businesses including VanCity, Tinhorn Creek, Sharp Six Consulting, Ecotrust Canada, Brinkman Climate, Eclipse Awards, Local Practice Architecture, MET Fine Printers and the Resort Municipality of Whistler,” the Cheakamus Community Forest website says.
Forest offsets are of interest as the B.C. government pursues its plan to preserve more old-growth forest areas by removing them from logging plans, as development of the LNG Canada and other energy projects add to emissions.
“Offset projects must improve forest management practices that increase carbon sequestration – keeping GHGs from the atmosphere,” the environment ministry said in a statement. “In order to be considered valid offsets, each project must undergo a rigorous set of evaluations and follow-ups to make sure they represent legitimate emissions reductions under provincial regulation.”