North / South America
Climate-change policy is a mess, cement boss writes
Oct, 26 2011
(Canada) -- There have been news stories in recent weeks questioning the B.C. government's policies on climate change and the Pacific Carbon Trust. Specifically, these stories have discussed the issue of schools and hospitals buying offsets in order to become carbon neutral instead of reducing their carbon emissions directly.
It is true the trust has certified and bought carbon offsets from a local cement kiln, however, these stories suggest the B.C. cement industry has benefitted from this program. It is important to note that none of the players - no schools, hospitals or the cement industry - were consulted before this policy was put in place.
The trust purchased the offsets from the cement industry because they were real, verifiable and additional, meaning above and beyond requirements. People also need to understand that the incentive the industry receives from offset purchases is eclipsed by the millions it pays in carbon tax.
These stories point to the importance of getting climate policy right - not just for elites, activists and bureaucrats, but for scientists, educators, health-care workers and the private sector.
Climate-change policies now are designed without consultation, implemented unilaterally and rapidly and forced upon stakeholders without options or flexibility, leading to odd and uncertain results.
The cement industry has been working hard to reduce its carbon emissions and the industry supports climate-change solutions, but it is difficult to make 20-, 10or even five-year decisions when climate-change policies are modified on a regular basis.
This very fluidity makes environmental issues appear too casual or trendy for anyone to make serious, long-term commitments that are necessary to generate meaningful and significant results.
Michael McSweeney, president and CEO, Cement Association of Canada
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