By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
The plans are now in the bag for carbon neutrality in three regional districts, 28 municipalities and several First Nations.
The Carbon Neutral Kootenays (CNK) project completed phase one of the work of detailing carbon neutral action plans for the Regional Districts of Central Kootenay, East Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary — finishing emissions and energy inventories for 28 municipalities, including Nelson, and several First Nations.
Seventy-five per cent of local governments had already reduced emissions by improving insulation in their buildings and retrofitting lighting and heating systems. However, once the action plans are absorbed, municipalities and regional districts are expected to further implement actions to reduce emissions and report their progress towards carbon neutrality.
The award-winning project — recognized by the Union of BC Municipalities for leadership and innovation in ‘environmental excellence in 2009 — was a unique funding model between regional districts and the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), with the partnership of regional districts, municipalities and First Nations a first in BC.
In addition to developing action plans to reduce emissions, the Carbon Neutral Kootenays project included learning opportunities for local government staff and councils to build their knowledge around carbon neutral planning and actions.
The next two years of this project are about building on and implementing the recommendations and actions identified in 2010 with regard to carbon neutral action plans, monitoring and carbon offsets.
Supporting and maintaining existing emissions inventories will also take place in the next two years, with aspects of the plan being put into effect.
As well, the Community Energy Association — a non-profit BC organization helping local governments address energy sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction — will help identify regional offset investment opportunities.
Suggestions on how local governments can track data so that energy emissions information is easily accessible will also be explored. This will enable reporting on emissions and assist the communities to apply for the Climate Action Revenue Incentive (Carbon Tax Rebate).
The project began in February of 2009 when Vancouver-based Sheltair Group and the Community Energy Association were hired to deliver the first year of the four-year Kootenay Carbon Neutral Action Strategy.
The plan will help local municipalities like Nelson that have signed the Province’s Climate Action Charter to achieve the goal of being carbon neutral in their operations by 2012.
The Carbon Neutral Kootenays Project is one of several climate change initiatives supported by CBT. For more information about CBT climate change initiatives, visit www.cbt.org/climatechange.