City buying carbon credits to stay neutral

Richmond Carbon Marketplace is a pilot project devised by the municipality to promote local greenhouse gas-saving projects

The City of Richmond is moving ahead with a community-based pilot program to reduce its corporate greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a recent report to Richmond city council from the city’s corporate energy manager, Levi Higgs, the city plans to pay upwards of $200,000 to companies in Richmond that are undertaking greenhouse gas-reducing projects.

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So far, the city has identified five projects — for what it calls the Richmond Carbon Marketplace — to purchase carbon credits from over the next year, at a total cost of $80,000. 

The city would acquire 2,100-3,200 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) credits, to offset the city’s corporate emissions and help maintain its carbon neutral status. 

One of those projects is a packaged organics separation and recycling project by Harvest Power, an organics composting company based in east Richmond.

The project involves separating the likes of packaged greens whereby the organic material is fed into an anaerobic digester, turned into biogas and then burned to produce electricity; meanwhile the packaging is sent off for recycling.

The project is said to fill a gap in regional options for recycling packaged organic waste.

Harvest Power still needs a permit to implement the project, which could save the equivalent of 1,000-1,500 tons of CO2 per year for the city, in exchange for $37,500.

The report indicates Richmond will face a carbon credit “deficit” in 2017, after the provincial government stops crediting it for landfill gas recapturing at the Metro Vancouver landfill.

By 2018, the city’s carbon deficit is predicted to be at 2,500 tons of CO2.

The city will still receive carbon credits for citywide organics collection, which is expected to continue to increase as residents in multi-family residential units adjust to the new collection system implemented this summer.

Last March the city cut its carbon deficit by not including the Richmond Olympic Oval in its emissions calculations. That’s because the Oval is its own corporate entity (it produces the equivalent of 1,333 tons of CO2, or 16 per cent of City of Richmond emissions). However, the city may still procure carbon credits from the Alexandra District Energy Corporation, another city subsidiary.

According to the report, the city aims to reduce carbon emissions with more efficient vehicle use, as well as better energy management and higher performing energy efficient buildings.

The report does not indicate how a carbon credit is calculated. 

It notes that one ton of CO2 credits would cost the city $25.

After the Harvest Power project, the next biggest carbon emission reduction project is at T and T Supermarket, which is working on an on-site organic waste composter that will produce liquid fertilizer and solid fuel pellets that can replace fossil fuels used to operate industrial machinery. It’s estimated the project could save 600 tons of CO2 annually.

Another proposed project is at the Ecowaste Industries landfill, where planting trees, grasses and shrubs is done to recapture “fugitive methane” that leaks through the landfill cap.

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