The City of Nanaimo managed to reduce its overall operational greenhouse gas emissions last year, but will have to pay into a regional fund to compensate for falling short of achieving carbon neutral status.
The city is required to report on its emissions each year as a signatory to the province's Climate Action Charter.
The municipality had originally committed to reducing its carbon footprint 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020, and by 80 per cent of 2007 levels by 2050. But the city watered down the targets last year as part of a new sustainability action plan after asserting the measures were too ambitious. Instead, the new plan calls for a three per cent reduction in emissions by 2020, and a 39 per cent reduction by 2050.
Data indicates the city produced 4,851 tonnes of CO2 emissions last year. Included in the figure is 22 tonnes that resulted from services contracted out by the city; the remaining 4,829 tonnes was produced through local government operations.
The total emissions are actually 712 tonnes higher than 2011 levels, and just 104 tonnes lower than in 2010.
However, the city says it has offset 1,963 tonnes of CO2 through its new household organic waste program by shifting compostable materials away from the landfill. When organic waste breaks down in a landfill, the potent greenhouse gas methane is released. By diverting the waste, the city avoids the emissions, and subtracts the amount from its total carbon footprint, leaving the local government with net emissions of 2,888 tonnes.
The city committed to achieving carbon-neutral levels through a memorandum of agreement with Parksville, Lantzville, Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo.
Under the joint venture, each government agreed to set up a reserve fund to invest in projects to reduce emissions on a regional basis. The money would be generated through a $25 per tonne amount for each local area for emissions generated in 2012.
In the case of the city, the $25 fee would generate $72,200.
As to how the money will be spent, the local governments are not bound by one another's decisions, said Chris Midgley, energy and sustainability manager for the RDN. He said the aim is to have local governments work together, but said the agreement would also allow each municipality the flexibility to opt out of an agreement.
"We're not cuffed together, we're linked arm in arm," he said.
Nanaimo community planning manager said arrangement allows the governments to explore what projects are "the best bang for the buck."
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