Pacific Carbon Trust misses offset revenue forecasts

The Pacific Carbon Trust was setup in 2008, during Premier Gordon Campbell's climate action craze, to sell British Columbia-based carbon offsets. Those offsets fund in-province projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, being purchased to compensate for an emission elsewhere. But a review of the trust's service plans shows the Crown corporation's offset sales targets have repeatedly been downgraded. For example, in 2009, the corporation budgeted its offset revenue for fiscal 2009/10 would be $3.25 million. Then, in 2010, the income for that fiscal year was forecasted to be $1.52 million. The actual result: $913,000 - with $859,261 coming from the public sector clients and just $53,425 coming from private sector clients. In an email, a spokesperson for the trust said those targets were missed because reduced government travel meant a reduce need to buy carbon offsets.


Considering that the CCX closed in December with carbon credits at $0.07 USD/ tonne CO2e, it is surprising that this was not even lower. The question remains why Public Service Organizations should be obliged to purchase inflated carbon offsets from PCT.

I wonder how much of the revenue came from the public schools, which had little choice but to pay hefty penalties for failing to invest in greener alternatives after the province cut school maintenance budgets by $110 million in 2009.

I understand that northerly school districts like Prince George were forced to pay hundreds of thousands in penalties in a fiscal year where they were also forced to close a bunch more schools to balance their budgets. These closures mean, for example, that some students now have to drive an hour or more each day to get to and from school on perilous winter roads, spewing tonnes of carbon every day! How is this greener????

It's also hardly surprising that the bulk of the penalties were paid by public sector entities, since they were given no choice re participating - unlike the private sector.

The only private companies I know that contribute are the float planes, and most of that cost is also absorbed by government-funded commuting between Vancouver and Victoria.

Given this unabalanced playing field, the bigger question then is where did the money go? You would expect that the fund would have been designed to help finance positive changes among the same entitites that were being penalized.

But no, my understanding is that the revenues were largely used to reward private sector developers for including "green" features that they would probably have done anyway.

It seems to me a big scam that's more about bleeding the public sector than fuelling greener alternatives: a win/win for private companies and a lose/lose proposition for public sector entitites facing squeezed budgets.

It IS a scam. The only thing green about this is the money.

Details of PCT Service Plans are at:

Note the expected large increase in revenues for 2011/12 - this is likely the monetization of PSO carbon footprint: schools, hospitals, colleges, etc.

The purchase of offsets needs to be compared against the $0.07/ tonne CO2e last reported by CCX and, more importantly the offset price paid by PSOs needs to be compared against the purchase price.

If a reduction in governemtn travel was the single or main reason for them to miss their revenue target then that does not reflect well on this initiative.

Meanwhile according to the latest Budget & Fiscal Plan 2011/12, the revenue from the alleged tax neutral, Carbon Tax is projected to be $950-million this fiscal and reaching $1.2-billion in 2014.

Another candidate for a forensic audit.

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