Chilliwack council had a choice to make this week about its greenhouse gas emission offsets.
They had to satisfy requirements by the Climate Investment Branch of B.C. Ministry of Environment’s Climate Action Secretariat, to either sell the city’s carbon offsets, created by flaring methane at the landfill, or put them toward achieving carbon neutrality, if required, down the line.
Chilliwack council voted Tuesday to move forward to negotiate the sale of its offsets from operating its landfill gas management system at the Bailey Landfill.
After monitoring and other costs were factored in, Chilliwack is expected to make between $75,000 to $275,000 from the sale of those offsets, and that money could be reinvested into the landfill infrastructure and operation.
When the issue came up for discussion at the council meeting, Coun. Chuck Stam floated the idea of specifically earmarking those offset funds for electric vehicles.
“It would be nice to reinvest it back into green technology,” said Stam, who later admitted green initiatives within the landfill system itself would work as well.
Staff’s original recommendation was to sell the offsets and return the funds back into the landfill reserve, but council indicated it had an appetite for making those funds used on environmentally friendly projects.
The city is still working toward carbon neutrality, and will likely end up buying offsets in the future, if required to do so by legislation, according to staff.
“I would be interested to see those funds going back into green technology,” Coun. Sam Waddington added at the meeting when the topic was selling the offsets.
The methane flaring system was one of three projects at the landfill site that were funded federally about three years ago.
It was one of only nine B.C. communities to take advantage of the funding under the gas tax revenues, and the methane-capturing at the landfill started in March 2014.
The offsets will be “claimed, verified, and sold” resulting in a financial benefits for the city.
Chilliwack now spends about about $100,000 annually to operate the landfill gas management system, and it managed to realize GHG emission reductions by capturing and flaring the methane gas produced through anaerobic degradation of waste. It will continue to accumulate offsets until the system loses its “voluntary” status on January 1, 2016.
About 1,4 million square metres of methane will have been captured and flared between March 6, 2014 and December 31, 2015, according to the staff report. This is equal to about 20,000 tonnes of GHG (CO2) equivalent.
Coun. Jason Lum suggested selling the offsets, and in a second resolution, it was resolved by council to refer the matter back to staff, to look at reinvesting in “green initiatives.”