Question: What do Coca-Cola, Chevron, Catalyst and North Cowichan all have in common?
Answer: We all produce carbon and none of us are carbon neutral.
The difference between North Cowichan and the others? If we stop logging parts of our forests, we can sell carbon offsets: They—the others—buy.
Before we spell out the exciting win-win possibility that may exist here in our Valley, first we want to give credit where credit is due—to Council.
On Wednesday, August 21, Council voted for the UBC partnership to lead the way with our forestry review, public consultation, and the weighty process about to unfold as we determine how, with the highest and best values paramount, we will manage and be responsible for the Six Mountain Community Forests.
The vote has been cast and we are now moving forward together. New chapter, new verse, new story. Ok, there are still some concerns—for instance, will there be logging in the next 2.5 years as public consultation ramps up? Are we reading the Staff Report correctly? Does it say there will not be full public consultation until 2021, and it will not come into effect until 2022?
From the beginning of the forest campaign last October, Council has been caught between past industrial forestry practises, changing ecological, economic and social values, and a state of climate emergency that has moved to a whole other level fast—faster than most people could have imagined ten months ago.
As a community we have gone through a year’s crash course on forest ecology—we still know only the surface. In February when a budget deadline led Council had to make a quick decision about the salvage, few people understood the issues and consequences about to unfold. It is now time to pull together as a community and move on.
So, moving on to a possibility for a partnership in North Cowichan that makes sense: In the last two presentations by UBC, the ethics of carbon credits was raised. Again, it came up this last Council meeting. If we sell our carbon offsets to some unknown carbon-producing industry are we selling our souls?
The answer is No. UBC has informed us that we can choose who we sell to, just as companies choose who they will buy from. Enter Catalyst.
Scientists say a healthy mature forest is the most efficient way to store carbon and mitigate climate emergency. Catalyst has a history of buying carbon credits. Catalyst has bought carbon credits in BC, including credits for reforestation projects in parks. Catalyst, who provides jobs for our community, uses our water, and produces carbon, was not able to buy carbon offsets from our forests when they started looking into the carbon market.
If we stop logging our forests, it’s possible North Cowichan and Catalyst could come together to do something positive for the environment. If not Catalyst, other local companies could buy our carbon credits, like Harbour Air who fly in and out of our community, trucking companies, and even municipal governments like Duncan, who need offsets to remain carbon neutral. We are entering a whole new world of possibilities.