The Cowichan Energy Alternative Society’s Brian Roberts and Chantelle Carden discuss carbon offsets at a recent CSWM board meeting. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Comox-Strathcona regions buying carbon offsets for now

Move will help cover emissions while CSWM looks for local offset projects

Comox Strathcona Waste Management (CSWM) is looking to carbon credits to mitigate some of its greenhouse gas emissions.

At a board meeting in late 2019, the directors of the board went ahead on a measure to purchase carbon credits for projects aimed at reducing carbon dioxide impact.

This followed a presentation by the Cowichan Energy Alternative Society about its offset programs.

The motion was to award the purchase of $160,000 of carbon credits – the equivalent dollar amount needed to purchase 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the global marketplace – from Cowichan Energy Alternative Society’s Community Carbon Marketplace (CCM). It also includes a clause for working toward a project within the Comox Strathcona Waste Management service area, which covers both the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts. The motion passed with only one dissenting vote from Gerald Whalley of Sayward Valley.

CSWM had considered several options, a staff report states, and contacted three carbon credit marketplaces for information about potential local projects. The report provides background information about the Cowichan Energy Alternative, based in Duncan. Its CCM helps local governments, businesses and individuals meet carbon-neutral objectives through the purchase of community carbon credits from local small-scale projects.

“Their goal is to support small greenhouse gas reducing projects and an online farmers market version of the Carbon Market, where buyers can support local initiatives,” the staff report states.

The Cowichan Energy Alternative Society’s Brian Roberts and Chantelle Carden appeared before the CSWM at the board meeting in November to provide some background. Roberts discussed some of their own initiatives, beyond the CCM, such as recycling cooking oil into biofuel and a research-and-development project to look at different projects that could potentially be made from recycled cooking oil, including plastics.

“We’d be looking at further down the road … whether we could actually make a plastic here locally that’s from recycled waste,” he said.

Most of the presentation focused on CCM though, and the work with communities to reduce carbon footprints since it started in 2012. The list includes Duncan, Lumby, Richmond, Penticton, Tofino, Ucluelet, Ladysmith and Squamish.

“We do work with local governments and businesses across B.C.,” Carden said. “Our vision is to create resilient communities and a healthy planet.”

The CCM is an online program that promotes local low-carbon projects such as electric vehicles, fuel-switching, diverting organics from landfills and retrofits, among others.

“We have currently worked with 10 local governments here in B.C. in becoming carbon-neutral,” she said.

Roberts said they typically identify projects that can make communities carbon-neutral, creating a shortlist with local governments on which ones they should undertake. One major development he expects is the increased access to biodiesel.

In this region, they had identified some potential projects in 2014 but some funding from the province that did not come through and stalled the process.

One thing they point to is a pilot Green & Go fuel station project that could provide biodiesel, ethanol and electric vehicle charging. They are set up in the Cowichan Valley and see it as viable for this region.

“It’s the gas station for people who don’t want to buy gas,” Roberts said.

Carden also outlined options such as updating the previous assessments of local greenhouse gas reduction projects, working with the Cumberland Community Forest on a project, supporting for current CCM projects for the short-term offsets and looking at a Green & Go project in the long term.

“We want to give you the options locally, so that you don’t have to buy them,” Roberts added.

RELATED STORY: Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op opens second fuel pump in the Valley

According to a staff report, the move is a response to a warning from the Province about emissions from the CSWM’s waste management centre in Campbell River.

This is designed to cover carbon emissions until its gas collection and flare system is ready in 2023. CSWM has been in the process of closing the Campbell River landfill over the next few years, with waste being brought to the Comox Valley and organics going to Campbell River.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River to house regional composting facility

As well, CSWM points out the Comox Valley Regional District is a B.C. Climate Action Charter signatory for taking action on climate change, and through this, CSWM purchases carbon offsets based on the impact from its activities.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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Brian Roberts of Cowichan Energy Alternatives says they want to increase the number of bio-fuel stations. Black Press file photo

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