Carbon Neutral Kootenays fades to black

Local governments have purchased carbon offsets through the Darkwoods forest on Kootenay Lake. - Sam Van Schie photo
Local governments have purchased carbon offsets through the Darkwoods forest on Kootenay Lake.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

An initiative to help local governments in the Kootenays reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is preparing to “gracefully fade away.”

Carbon Neutral Kootenays, created in early 2009 in response to BC’s Climate Action Charter, will wind down operations in the next three months, according to executive director Dale Littlejohn.

“After assisting local governments across the Columbia Basin and Boundary with their emissions, we’ve successfully transferred most of the capacity to do that into the local governments and so the external assistance isn’t needed as much anymore,” he told 103.5 The Bridge.

Carbon Neutral Kootenays is a partnership between the three Kootenay regional districts and the Columbia Basin Trust. However, it was never meant to be permanent, Littlejohn said.

The Climate Action Charter originally called on BC local governments to commit to climate neutrality by 2012, but only three of the 31 local governments in the Kootenays, including New Denver, achieved this goal through the purchase of offsets from the Darkwoods forest on Kootenay Lake.

However, Littlejohn said most others have set aside reserve funds to reduce energy emissions in their operations and across the community in lieu of offset. “It’s not technically carbon neutral but it’s in the spirit of and working towards being carbon neutral.”

Littlejohn said reaching actual neutrality without offsets may possible over the long term with the replacement of capital assets, such as boilers and vehicles. “You’re not going to eliminate fossil fuels from all municipal operations overnight, but when you look at 10, 20, 30 years, it starts to be a little more possible,” he said.

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