B.C. draft carbon offset rules draw criticism from environmentalist

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      Proposed rules for forest carbon offset projects are receiving criticism as a new draft protocol is opened up for public review.

      The B.C. government released the draft Forest Carbon Offset Protocol (FCOP) Tuesday (November 23) and is requesting comments from the public on the document.

      Under the protocol, forest managers who undertake activities that meet requirements, such as planting trees, restoring forests and protecting sensitive areas from development, would generate offsets that they can sell on the carbon offset market.

      Ben West, the healthy communities campaigner for the Wilderness Committee, said using carbon offsets as forest protection is a “step in the wrong direction”.

      “As much as I do believe there’s a certain logic to protecting the value of a forest and providing some resources or revenue to folks to give them an incentive not to cut forests down that do provide a service that’s useful to all of us...we just simply can’t allow for the additional emissions to be justified by protecting forests," West told the Straight by phone today (November 26).

      "We've done a pretty good job of fighting to protect forests without offsets, and I think that's something that we need to continue doing."

      West said he’s concerned about the logic of bioenergy as “carbon neutral.”

      “The basic principal [is] that you cut down a tree and burn it, you plant another tree and you basically are carbon neutral—but the reality if you look around the world is that we’re deforesting the planet at an alarming rate,” he said.

      West said in B.C., the rate of deforestation, in particular due to the pine beetle, is extreme.

      “We’re not anywhere close to replacing the biomass of the planet that’s being used up,” he said.

      West sees the concept of carbon offsets as “fundamentally flawed”, and said he would prefer to see an emphasis on emission caps.

      “If we’re serious about doing anything about climate change, the cap part of cap and trade is a lot more important than the trade part, and so far we’re doing the trade and not the cap,” he said.

      “There is legislation in place in B.C. to reduce emissions, but there seems to be nothing happening to actually make it a reality."

      Other environmental groups say they are reviewing the 150-page protocol and will provide more detailed response on the draft rules next week.

      Members of the public can submit their written comments on the requirements until January 31, 2011. The final protocol is expected to be completed in early 2011.

      You can follow Yolande Cole on Twitter at twitter.com/yolandecole.

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      9 Comments

      Phony credit

      Nov 26, 2010 at 12:42pm

      Didn't we learn our lesson with credit default swaps? Trading carbon credits is just another phony market based intangible assets for people with too much money to gamble in. You're fooling yourself if you think it will actually end up being about reducing CO2 production.

      glen p robbins

      Nov 26, 2010 at 6:14pm

      The information I am receiving is that we are millions of trees behind in our silviculture reforestation practice.

      Ben?

      glen p robbins

      Nov 27, 2010 at 9:12am

      OK - From the beginning: Under Stakeholder Consultation Summary it states: "A technical working group of experienced professionals in forest management, forest carbon and carbon offsets was invited to provide expert advice"-------------------and concludes: "While the technical working group was an important element in the formation of the draft protocol the province of BC acknowledges that participation by the expert advisors DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ENDORSEMENT by those expert advisors of either the draft protocol in the final Forest Carbon Offset Protocol that may be approved by the government."

      Do the experts not want to be associated with the Protocol or is the government saying - yea we had some experts but we can ignore them if we like - and do as we please?

      What/Why are "projects with relevant aspects not provided by quantification methodologies --clearly identified as being not eligible to use this version of the protocol"?

      If they are relevant with assessment criteria - why not eligible?

      HOW can "emission reductions" be "conservatively stated" while at the same time "consider (sic) the associated uncertainties of relevant sources."?

      Under 2.3.11 Afforestation - "Afforestation means the direct human-induced conversion of land that has not been Forest land for at least 20 years - prior to project commencement to Forest Land through planting, seeding and/or human induced promotion of natural seed sources. Areas that may be suitable for afforestation projects include, but are not limited to: Marginal productivity land, urban land, degraded industrial lands such as mine sites."

      If we have fallen behind planting millions and millions of trees (silviculture) in orthodox circumstances for reforestation - as I have suggested to Mr. West (previously)- why is it necessary to concern ourselves at this time with "marginal productivity land" or "degraded industrial lands such as mine sites"?

      Is the inclusion of urban land as suitable a type of misdirection (to satisfy the green urban environmentalists politically) and to present a platform for increased mining and increased monies for those companies who mine to be paid significantly more dollars to clean up their mess afterward with no clear criteria for assessing whether or not the clean up was successful?

      plen r gobbins

      Nov 27, 2010 at 6:38pm

      The silence from the DSF is deafening. Their continued support of this banana republic styled government is shameful.

      (for you young people - google banana republic it is not referring to clothes)

      glen p robbins

      Nov 27, 2010 at 9:17pm

      plen r - You -- you're good you.

      average rape ape

      Nov 28, 2010 at 12:07am

      Carbon?!? Just scrape that stuff-off, its still good to eat boy.

      Amtrak 375

      Dec 2, 2010 at 10:25am

      I work in the forestry industry actually in silviculture. One day the leaders of the environmental community will wake up and realize that forests have to be managed to some degree. Otherwise events such as the Kelowna fires (small) and the mountian pine beelte (huge) will happen. It is too late to simply allow nature to always take its course. The money derived from carbon credits allow for protection and enhancement activities to be completed. But then again if the closest tree you see is in stanley park or on the north shore looking out your highrise condo you will not get the rest of the story.

      Jessica Biel

      Dec 9, 2010 at 6:00am

      Stop arguing over this, its important but your being stupid. k bye.

      Kellie B

      Apr 27, 2011 at 5:45pm

      Maybe forest management should be the responsibility (Business as Usual) of forest companies, not of a provincial offset program. I agree with Ben on that one - the offsets are not 'additional' in terms of political capacity to mandate forest practice and past reforestation and management work. Also there are leakages where what we don't sell is cut and sold from another forest.

      I disagree that there is no way to successfully offset. It is essentially an investment in a reduction of emissions. If offset funds paid for retrofits of passive solar, groundsource heat, and other low fossil benefits for people who can't access or afford them in Canada, they wouldn't be as controversial. Those people are not routinely offered energy efficiency help or likely to just use more of some other kind of energy to heat if their heat is taken care of in a carbonless way.