The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent by 2012 and offset its remaining emissions through carbon offsets.
Last month directors approved the district’s climate action plan, which sets out initiatives for the district to meets its commitments under the provincial Climate Action Charter.
“This district signed onto the Climate Action Charter to be carbon neutral by 2012,” consultant Ron MacDonald said. “(But) it would be physically impossible to reduce all emissions by 2012.”
The regional district, as a corporate entity, produces approximately 1,020 tonnes of carbon dioxide (or equivalent) per year, MacDonald said.
Approximately half of that comes from the operation of the district’s fleet and buildings, he added.
Retrofits to the district’s buildings could be done for approximately $200,000, he said. The improvements would reduce emissions by approximately 94 tonnes per year and save the district $34,000 per year in utility costs.
“The payback is about six years,” MacDonald said.
Developing an anti-idling policy, purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles and developing a fuel monitoring system could save 3,000 L of gasoline and 4,500 L of diesel per year reducing emissions by 20 tonnes per year.
The bulk of the district’s emissions will have to be offset, MacDonald said. Carbon offsets are activities which take greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere.
The Pacific Carbon Trust will develop the specific standards for what legally counts as an offset. The trade of carbon offsets is a growing industry in Europe, where environmental legislation is further advanced.
“Personally I think there is an opportunity that any offsets could come from within the region,” MacDonald said. “A Prince George community energy system is one possibility.”
District director and Prince George Mayor Dan Rogers said offsets can and should come from within the region.
“Is there any effort to create a northern offset bank, so that money will at least stay in the North?” Rogers asked. “We at the city are working on our plan. I’m extremely concerned that we’re in a tight time frame to develop policy and implement it.”
Rogers said Climate Action Charter signatories in the region need to work together to meet their targets.
“We all have fleets. We all have buildings. I think there is an opportunity to have further cooperation,” he said. “Any efforts we can do to collaborate as a region will benefit all of us.”
Director and Prince George city councillor Debora Munoz said she’d like to see a more holistic approach to emission reduction and environmental health.
“There is certainly a need for integrated land management,” Munoz said. “It’s not just all about what fossil fuels we burn that’s not enough. It’s about a healthy ecosystem.”
The full plan can be found online at www.rdffg.bc.ca.