Perhaps investing carbon offset money in solar panels is a more concrete, green idea. (Citizen file)

Perhaps investing carbon offset money in solar panels is a more concrete, green idea. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Carbon offset money should go to real green projects

We understand the principles of the carbon marketplace and believe it can be a good thing.

We understand the principles of the carbon marketplace and believe it can be a good thing.

But when it comes to municipal budgeting, there may be more green ways to spend taxpayer dollars than buying carbon offsets to reach carbon neutrality.

The goal of many governments and businesses is to become carbon neutral — in other words to balance the good green projects with the polluting and energy expenditures an organization makes.

For entities producing more carbon than they can balance out, the carbon marketplace offers carbon offsets that can be bought from other entities whose carbon books balance in the other direction.

This can be a good way to promote and provide extra funding for green businesses that produce things like alternative energy or bio-diesel.

But buying carbon offsets shouldn’t become a way to avoid actually doing what you should be doing within your own organization to cut down on your own carbon.

North Cowichan had set aside $25,000 in its draft budget for 2018 to purchase carbon offsets as it strives for carbon neutrality. Last year’s budget saw $10,000 paid out for this purpose.

Council is in the process of rethinking this expenditure.

We think they should. Surely there are other projects they could spend that $25,000 on that would have a real, local impact on climate change. Simply giving $25,000 a year to people to put solar panels on their individual homes would seem to be a more concrete way to go green. Or how about incentives to change to electric vehicles?

Or perhaps the funds could be used to set up a spring and fall debris pick-up throughout the municipality where people could get rid of their yard waste rather than smoking out their neighbours with backyard burning. There are no doubt many other worthy ideas out there. It’s at least worth exploring.