The Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health authorities spent more than $1 million each on carbon offsets last year.
A provincial government report detailing the mandated purchases shows UBC spent the most on offsets – $1.7 million – while school districts spent a combined $4.5 million, led by the Surrey School District at $523,000 and Vancouver at $427,000.
Government bodies must buy carbon offsets through B.C.’s Pacific Carbon Trust to neutralize their own greenhouse gas emissions as part of the province’s policy of carbon neutral government introduced by former premier Gordon Campbell.
Offsets bought in 2012 totalled $18.8 million, with health authorities making up the single largest contributing sector at $5.7 million.
Critics have called the program is a waste of scarce public sector money as schools and hospitals can’t eliminate their own emissions to avoid the charges.
An audit of the Pacific Carbon Trust also found some of the made-in-B.C. offset projects should not have received money.
Premier Christy Clark has directed new Environment Minister Mary Polak to reform the offset system.