A Saanich councillor would like to see the municipality review its internal price for carbon after the public heard that Saanich actually benefits from emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs) responsible for climate change through a provincial rebate program.
Coun. Judy Brownoff raised that point following a presentation from former council candidate Trevor Barry, who asked Saanich to raise its internal carbon price above the provincial carbon tax.
Saanich’s internal carbon price is $25 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions — $10 lower than the provincial carbon tax rate.
“So if you do the math, Saanich is making at the moment $10 for every ton of greenhouse gases that your corporate operations put out through its smoke into the atmosphere,” he said. “You are actually earning $10 [per ton] from the provincial government through the Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP).”
The program is a conditional grant program that provides funding to local governments equal to 100 per cent of the carbon taxes, which they pay directly to support municipal operations. This incentive program is available to all signatories of the B.C. Climate Action Charter. Saanich is among the 187 of 190 municipalities, regional districts and the Islands Trust that have signed the charter.
“Let me repeat that,” said Barry. “You do not pay carbon tax. You do, but because you are a signatory to the Climate Change Action Charter, you are getting all of that money back, and because you only have a $25-dollar-per-ton price signal for your internal operations, it means that for every ton of carbon that you put in the atmosphere through your corporate operations, you are getting $10 dollars back from the province. That’s a problem.”
The internal carbon price should be at least as high as the provincial carbon tax, he said. “So as the carbon [tax] in British Columbia rises to $50-dollars plus in the next three years, I would really like to see Saanich take a leadership role yet again, and have the internal carbon price higher than the external carbon price that you are getting rebated back to you.”
According to the provincial government, Saanich received a grand total of $690,035 of CARIP returns for the years 2013 to 2017, with the proviso that the carbon tax for those years stood at $30 per ton. The carbon tax rose to $35 on April 1.
The public heard these comments as Saanich’s committee of the whole received an update on district’s climate action plan. It shows among other points that Saanich will fail to meet its target of reducing GHGs (based on 2007 levels) by 80 per cent by 2050 by a wide margin. If current practices continue, Saanich will reduce GHGs by nine per cent.
Tara Zajec, a spokesperson from the District of Saanich, said the carbon tax rebate received by Saanich through the CARIP is already used specifically to provide funding support to community climate action projects.
She said they include building energy retrofit rebate top-ups (such as the Oil to Heat Pump Program), community bike kitchens and EV charging station program and education programs.
“Additional funds — the contributions to the Carbon Fund — are used to provide funding support to corporate climate action projects such as building retrofits and the electrification of our fleet,” she said.