Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of July 25, 2011)


Carbon Credit charade


 By John Martin


Some of you may recall a recurring scene in the brilliant HBO series, The Sopranos. Tony Soprano would be sitting at the bar in the Bada Bing club in a rather foul mood. The bartender-a big, tattooed, likable lug-would make an ill-timed comment and an enraged Tony would smack him upside the head with the telephone or beat him senseless with an ice bucket.

Next day, he'd feel a bit guilty about what happened and give the battered and bandaged server a fistful of money for medical bills and a new shirt.

In a word, this is the same as buying carbon credits. Those who feel a sense of shame regarding their carbon footprint are able to purchase credits through a system that supposedly uses the funds to reduce emissions elsewhere.

This is the scheme that allows Al Gore to jet set around the globe and leave his fleet of limousines idling with the air conditioning on while he's in a banquet room earning a king's ransom for showing his truth-challenged, apocalyptic powerpoint show.

At best, it's a fruitless program that accomplishes nothing other than relieve one's guilt. At worst, it's a fraudulent scam. In any event, there's no evidence these outfits make one iota of difference to overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Still, if an individual or private company wants to be involved in such a program, that's their prerogative. But when cash strapped, public institutions are forced to devote scarce resources to these rackets, something has gone terribly wrong.

This is the case in British Columbia. The provincial government's climate change agenda literally forces hospitals, schools and other public operations to fork over big bucks to the Pacific Carbon Trust to supposedly function carbon neutral.

You may have heard that the University of the Fraser Valley is busting at the seams and struggling to accommodate a record number of applicants. Funding has been static the last two years and more classrooms, office space and other facilities are desperately needed.

And while this has been going on, UFV was forced to fork over close to $90,000 last fiscal year to the Pacific Carbon Trust. To add insult to injury, this included almost ten grand in HST!

It's the same everywhere in the province. All told, public institutions had to find more than $18 million last year for this symbolic, feel-good exercise in futility. Time and time again we hear of deteriorating conditions and services in health care and schools. Public institutions are being forced to do more with less as their costs continue to climb.

And yet, they have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for a pointless government public relations charade.

I can't begin to imagine the frustration and sense of helplessness of administrators who had to divert funds from hospital beds and classrooms to appease this government's obsession with worshipping at the alter of climate change hysteria.

Personally, I think I'd rather be blind-sided by an ice bucket.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at


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Contributing 2011