Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Carbon Neutrality Con

In B.C., new legislation mandates that all government ministries and agencies, including hospitals, become carbon neutral by 2010.

To become carbon neutral, a company would either reduce its own emissions or offset the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) it creates by buying credits from a project that has lower emissions.

Reducing emissions will mean fewer bureaucrats flying around in airplanes, so that may save money. But offsets? That's another question.

To emit one tonne of CO2 you would need to travel 3,200 kilometers in an airplane. But, to offset that you would need to run one 600 kilowatt wind turbine for an average year or plant an acre of Douglas fir trees. The B.C. government's emissions reduction goal is about 30 million tonnes. The taxpayer will have to plant an awful lot of trees to come up with an offset that big.

So, how much is all this going to cost? A report from the UK based Taxpayers Alliance shows that the UK sends a subsidy of almost $1 billion to other EU countries in exchange for hot air in its effort to become carbon neutral. It also shows that public sector organizations in the UK did a bad job at trading emissions. One hospital lost almost $600,000 in the emissions trading scheme. That would pay for about 600 MRI scans in a private clinic in Vancouver.

Hospitals already have enough challenges, and now their bureaucrats are going to spend time and money trading CO2? Just a thought, but maybe reducing surgical wait times should be a higher priority.

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