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(The following press release from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment was received by e-mail and was reformatted. The sender verified the statement.)

NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release 2013ENV0037-000610 March 27, 2013

Ministry of Environment

Auditor General's carbon neutrality conclusion rejected

VICTORIA - The B.C. government accepts recommendations included in a report released today by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) titled "An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government", but rejects its conclusion that government has not met its objective of achieving a carbon neutral public sector.

"British Columbia became the first carbon neutral government in North America in 2010 and is recognized as a world leader in climate action - I stand by our achievements," said Environment Minister Terry Lake. "The audit was limited in scope - only covering B.C.'s first year as a carbon neutral government and the first two offsets purchased by Pacific Carbon Trust - and does not reflect the changes made to B.C.'s offset system as the market has evolved."

B.C.'s offset system is based on international standards. A key feature of B.C.'s offset program is that third-party, accredited professionals validate and verify projects to ensure they meet the requirements of B.C.'s emission offsets regulation. This approach is consistent with new offset systems now being implemented in Quebec, California, Australia, China, South Korea and elsewhere.

The Province will move forward on the recommendations of the OAG, and has already accomplished significant improvements in the following areas during the past year while the audit has been underway:

* Developed a diversified offset portfolio of 32 projects in all sectors of the economy and all regions of B.C. * Completed extensive engagements across the public sector, with offset professionals, and with academics and experts to improve the Carbon Neutral Government program. * Eliminated reporting costs to the entire public sector. * Implemented a new Carbon Neutral Capital Program which has already provided $10 million dollars over two years in new capital funding to the kindergarten-to-Grade 12 education sector. * Created a Carbon Offset Advisory Panel to advise Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT) on the development of its offset portfolio. * Provided greater transparency by publicly releasing the purchase price of every offset in PCT's portfolio. * Initiated a review to determine if the financial surplus currently generated from offset purchases should be used to lower public-sector costs or invested to further reduce emissions.

In addition, the Climate Action Secretariat (CAS) is currently working with PCT and offset professionals to improve B.C.'s offset system. To address the OAG's recommendation that CAS provide stronger oversight to ensure that offsets purchased on behalf of government are credible, the CAS director with statutory authority has already begun to consult with the professional community and develop more formal and rigorous procedures to ensure that the director's oversight role is clear, clearly communicated to PCT and delivered consistently.

Pacific Carbon Trust is a Crown corporation created in 2008 to purchase high-quality offsets and support the growth of the offset market in B.C. As the market develops, PCT's policies and operations will also continue to evolve. With this in mind, PCT has been working with Deloitte to improve its business processes, policies and risk management.

Learn More:

* To view further information on offsets, visit Pacific Carbon Trust at:


Media Relations Ministry of Environment 250 953-3834

Connect with the Province of B.C. at:


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