The State of BC Carbon Markets

On July 1, 2008, a revenue-neutral carbon tax was implemented in British Columbia, Canada. The tax was established to encourage individuals, businesses and industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The tax is frozen at $30 per tonne of emissions.

As of December 2013, the Provincial government of BC had not legislated emissions markets beyond the carbon tax. It did however mandate that the government’s public sector operations be carbon neutral on a yearly basis. As a result, the Provincial government has undertaken to both reduce the carbon emissions of public sector operations, and further meet climate neutrality through the use of carbon offsets created within the Provincial boundaries.

In order to achieve public sector carbon neutrality, a number of carbon projects were undertaken to help supply the roughly 750,000 tonnes of offsets needed annually by the Province. Era’s parent company, Offsetters, has played a pivotal role in designing and developing some of the most significant carbon projects, including those directly related to BC forests and forestry products. Most notable among these are:

  • Great Bear Forest Carbon project: the largest Improved Forest Management project in North America, covering approximately 7 million hectares of BC’s coastal temperate rainforest
  • Darkwoods Forest Carbon project: covering 55,000 hectares of land in the interior of British Columbia

The Province of BC wishes to become a leading exporter of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) over the coming decades, and the scale of development would have a significant emissions impact within the Province. It’s expected that 2014 will see a clear policy framework by the government that will address both LNG development, and the increased emissions resulting from it. “Flexible mechanisms” such as carbon offsets, may play an important role in helping LNG companies and the Province meet emissions regulations. As a jurisdiction with a significant forested land base, biological sequestration could play a pivotal role in supplying valuable carbon offset supply under a legislated framework.

BC Forestry primer

The Province of British Columbia has a land base of 95 Million hectares, 60% of which is forested (about 55 million hectares). In total, less than 3% of original forest has been converted to human use, and more than half of the forested area has had little or no human disturbance.

Roughly 83% of BC’s forests are predominantly coniferous, 6% are mixed forests and 6% are broadleaved. BC is home to more than 40 different species of native trees and one of the most ecologically diverse provinces, with temperate rainforests, dry pine forests, and alpine meadows. It is also among the most biologically diverse areas and home to more than half of Canada’s wildlife and fish species. Geographically, 32% of BC’s forests are in coastal regions while the remaining 68% are in the interior of the Province. As of 2013, 41% or BC’s forest are more than 140 years old.

Of the 55 million hectares of forests, approximately 7.6 million hectares (14%) of BC’s forests are in protected areas, with 13% of these forests being 141-250 years old.

Canadian Forests release a net average of 45 million tonnes of carbon per year due to natural causes of decay, fire and other processes. Early estimates indicate that Canada’s forests contain more than 89 billion tonnes of stored/sequestered carbon. Approximately 4 million tonnes of carbon are stored in forest products each year. From a BC perspective, the annual harvest comes from less than 200,000 hectares, less than 1% of the working forest.

For more information on the latest policy and market developments as well as offset project development services for the BC market please see link to forest carbon project development services and contact us at anytime.