Brian Roberts of the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op suggests a local investment rather than spending on carbon offsets. (Citizen file)

Column: Idea for North Cowichan: Invest local funds into local sustainability projects

If successful, we will build a new community biofuel pump

By Brian Roberts

In response to the North Cowichan councillors who are questioning the value of carbon credits, here’s another question: what if, instead of just throwing money at any old carbon credits, North Cowichan invested that money locally in a way that helps them sustainably reduce their own emissions and those of the community well into the future?

This would decrease the district’s need to purchase offsets in the first place, and if done right, would help the entire community become a greener, healthier place.

Cowichan Energy Alternatives Society just happens to be working on such a proposal with the support of the province, the City of Duncan and Area E Director Alison Nicholson.

If successful, we will build a new community biofuel pump to provide better access to low carbon fuels within the Duncan area. This would allow local governments, businesses and residents alike to reduce local air pollution and global emissions using biodiesel, and at a per litre price that’s competitive with regular gas stations. And if another proposal to the province is successful, biodiesel, and eventually ethanol, will be locally available at prices cheaper than fossil fuels!

But here’s the catch: it will cost about $100,000 and we will need local investment to make that happen.

Do you see the win-win?

If North Cowichan invested that $25,000 into making this a reality, they could reduce both their vehicle fleet emissions and the need to buy offsets. And any additional carbon credits created from the community’s use of biofuels could be used to further reduce the district’s emissions over the long-term.

Such an investment will address our community’s single biggest source of emissions: driving. According to a community energy and emissions inventory study by the province, 72 per cent of emissions in the Cowichan region are from driving.

Then the district could add some action to their award-winning Climate Action plan!

Don’t believe in climate change? Then do it to reduce local air pollution, or to support the local economy, green jobs, and the development of a sustainable, local energy source (fracking may have delayed peak oil, but it’s still a real thing).

The effectiveness of carbon credits as a tool to achieve our community’s priorities should be questioned, as should the responsible use of our public funds. It’s this kind of questioning that led CEA to create the Community Carbon Marketplace, to help local governments become carbon neutral while simultaneously stimulating their local economy by supporting green initiatives like CEA’s new community biofuel pump.

After all, carbon credits are just a tool. Like a hammer, they can be used to build things that benefit our community, or not. How we use that tool is up to us.

To donate to our community biofuel pump project or to support our other sustainability initiatives please contact us at info@cowichanenergy.org.

If you have a diesel car, truck, tractor or other machinery, and want to reduce your emissions, you can start right now by visiting www.cowichanbiodiesel.org.

For more information on the Community Carbon Marketplace, go to: http://www.communitycarbonmarketplace.com

Brian Roberts is the executive director of CEA and a founding member of the Cowichan Bio-Diesel Co-op.

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