The cost of neutrality

The Campbell administration's Pacific Carbon Trust expects to be annually purchasing between 600,000 to 900,000 tonnes of carbon offsets by 2010 to compensate for the provincial government's greenhouse gas emissions. And the trust is looking for organizations to buy those offsets from. This, according to a document quietly posted on BC Bid this past Friday. The trust hasn't said what price it will pay for those offsets - which must be "credible" and "BC-based." But, according to May 2008 report on the voluntary carbon market by Ecosystem Marketplace and New Carbon Finance, the range of prices for offsets "again showed huge variation" in 2007 - ranging from $1.80 and $300.27 per tonne.

The government has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2010. As part of that commitment, public sector organizations must purchase offsets if they can't reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned document.

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Summary Details:

The Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) is requesting information from interested parties for the supply of qualifying greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets. This RFI is intended to gather information that could assist PCT in the development of a future procurement process.

Overview

The Province of British Columbia has initiated a comprehensive Climate Action Plan. This Plan includes a legislated requirement for public sector organizations (PSOs) to become carbon neutral in their operations. To achieve this aim, PSOs will be required to take action to reduce their GHG emissions. For emissions that cannot be reduced, PSOs must apply GHG offsets, in order to bring their carbon balance to zero net emissions. PSOs are to become carbon neutral by 2010.

PCT is a newly established Crown agency that has been given the mandate to acquire BC-based qualifying GHG offsets on behalf of PSOs. PCT will also be securing other public sector clients and may, over time, become a supplier of offsets to the voluntary market.

By 2010, PCT expects to acquire annually between 600,000 and 900,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) offsets. In the near term, PCT will acquire a smaller volume of offsets to compensate for core government travel.

At this time, PCT is exploring the possibility of acquiring most of the required offsets from organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, that can provide an ongoing supply of credible, BC-based GHG offsets that meet provincial eligibility criteria.

PCT will only acquire offsets that are based in BC and meet defined eligibility criteria. The BC Ministry of Environment has issued an "Emission Offsets Regulations under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act - Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation" that contains the proposed criteria.

This RFI is the first step in a process that will lead to the acquisition of GHG offsets by PCT. The purpose of this first step is three-fold:

- To identify the level of interest in the opportunity;

- To identify the potential capacity of organizations to supply the quantity of offsets needed by PCT; and

- To seek advice from organizations on how best to structure subsequent procurement processes and resulting contractual arrangements.

Respondents should note that this Request for Information is not a Request for Proposals or a formal tender call. Receipt of responses in relation to this Request for Information will not constitute a contract to purchases goods or services. No respondent shall acquire any legal rights or privileges whatsoever in relation to the project, or portion
thereof, as a result of this Request for Information.

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