It’s not all black and white.
But some improvements could be made, according to Nechako Lake MLA John Rustad.
There has been some controversy recently over payments school districts across the province make towards carbon offsets to the Pacific Carbon Trust.
As part of the requirement for government to be carbon neutral, the school districts have to buy carbon offsets from Pacific Carbon Trust, which then pays for the private sector to make improvements to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
A press release by the BC School Trustees recently called attention to the payment of the carbon offsets by cash-strapped school districts.
Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson and School District 27 have also been in the news opposing the policy recently.
School District 27 officials in Williams Lake were quoted in the Williams Lake Tribune as saying the board has resolved to write a letter to Finance Minister Kevin Falcon asking for the money they pay towards carbon offsets be held in trust for future projects in the districts themselves, not in the private sector.
School District 27 reported it paid the Pacific Carbon Trust $87,000 this year for carbon offsets.
An opinion piece by Tribune staff stemming from the story then asked the question “whether this is an honest attempt to do our part for the environment or simply a carefully packaged taxpayer subsidy to business?”
But Rustad says that while the school districts are required to become carbon neutral and do pay for carbon offsets, the province then turns around and funds ways of reducing carbon emissions by the districts.
“In a way, they have received far more back to school districts for energy conservation projects, mechanical upgrades, etc. than they have paid (to become carbon neutral),” he said.
Rustad says the average cost for school districts is about $42,000.
“The investment that the province has made in school districts to do all the retrofitting and upgrades by far exceed the amount that school districts are paying at this particular point,” he added.
The area Rustad is arguing could be improved is in how the carbon emission reduction project funding is then allocated, which is the message he has been getting from northern mayors and school districts.
“I would like to see those types of projects within our area if it’s at all possible to do,” he said.
School District 91 officials did not return The Courier’s request in time to comment on the policy or give an amount they have paid towards offsets.