BC First Nations earning carbon credits
January 24, 2013, Vancouver, BC – The so-called Great Bear Rainforest has become part of the carbon economy.
January 24, 2013 By Vancouver Sun
First Nations are now earning money through carbon credits by reducing the amount they and forest companies are allowed to log as laid out by new B.C. laws. They are also getting credit for the timber they and logging companies were prohibited from cutting after numerous areas were turned into conservancies.
The premise is that if fewer trees are logged, theoretically it means that more carbon dioxide will be sequestered from the atmosphere. Those tonnes of carbon dioxide – or greenhouse gas emissions – reductions can be sold in the new carbon economy to help industry and governments offset their emissions.
In the Great Bear Rainforest's first carbon transaction, the Crown corporation Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) has purchased 300,000 tonnes of carbon reductions from nearby First Nations for an undisclosed price.
It's likely the carbon dioxide reductions were valued at more than $2 million, but neither the First Nations nor PCT will say. The six First Nations – Nux-alk, Wuikinuxv, Metlakatla, Kitasoo, Heiltsuk and Gitga'at – hope to sell millions more credits at home and globally in the next 25 years.
The idea is that the carbon credits will fetch a premium because of the "charisma" of the Great Bear Rainforest.
But there's a catch. In order for the carbon credits to be considered legitimate – both under British Columbia's system and under other global standards – they have to pass a key test called "additionality."
That test must show the project – in this case, the conservation of the forest – only went forward because revenue from the carbon credits made it viable, helping overcome some financial or technical barrier.
It's an issue B.C.'s auditor general is already examining in a review of the PCT expected to be released this spring.
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