Whistler recognized by Province for achieving carbon neutrality
September 9, 2015: Whistler, BC – The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has been recognized by the Province of British Columbia Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for achieving carbon neutrality in 2014.
As a signatory to the Climate Action Charter, Whistler has demonstrated its commitment to work with the Province and Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to take action on climate change and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in corporate operations and the broader community. Whistler was one of the first communities in British Columbia to develop a community energy and emission plan setting ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets.
In a recent letter from the Province, the RMOW was awarded Level 3 recognition – ‘Achievement of Carbon Neutrality,’ as part of the joint Provincial-UBCM Green Communities Committee (GCC)’s Climate Action Recognition Program.
“We are proud of this recognition by the Province and would like to acknowledge staff and the community’s efforts and contributions to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across the organization and community,” said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
“The RMOW is now in the process of updating our community energy and climate action plan along with 30 leaders from across the community. This plan will provide direction for Whistler’s long-term climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy.”
The RMOW adopted a Carbon Neutral Operations Plan in 2009, which committed the organization to achieving carbon neutrality by 2010, both as an acknowledgment of the urgency of the climate crisis and its impact on Whistler’s economy, and as a means of accelerating the RMOW’s organizational commitments to corporate emission reductions.
While the RMOW continues to monitor and take action to reduce emissions, a key action of the RMOW Carbon Neutral Operations Plan is to offset all remaining corporate emissions with third-party verified, high-quality carbon offsets to reduce annual net corporate emissions to zero.
Since the signing of an agreement this year between the Cheakamus Community Forest near Whistler and the Province of B.C., which allows the community forest to generate and sell carbon offsets, it is now possible for the RMOW to neutralize its corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by purchasing carbon offsets locally.
A carbon offset is an independently verified credit for net greenhouse gas reductions achieved by one party that can be used to compensate (or offset) the emissions of another party. Carbon offsets are typically measured in tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalents (or CO2e), transacted through carbon registries, and bought and sold for voluntary or regulated emissions reductions.
Whistler has delivered a 17 per cent reduction in GHG emissions since 2007 primarily as a result of significant infrastructure projects, such as pipeline conversion, landfill management and increased organics recycling. Find more information at whistler.ca/climateaction.
Whistler’s energy monitoring and performance
Each year, the RMOW reports on the energy and GHG emissions performance for the Whistler community as well as the RMOW’s internal corporate operations.
The reports include performance data, key trends and insights, as well as benchmarks on performance against Council-adopted targets. These reports are intended to support and inform the strategic management of energy and climate-changing emissions across the community. Download the 2014 Whistler Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Performance Trends Annual Report.
Find additional corporate and community monitoring data at www.whistler.ca/monitoring.
Cheakamus Community Forest carbon offsets
The carbon offsets generated by the Cheakamus Community Forest project are created by improved forest management actions on the 33,000 hectares it manages. They are quantified with the BC Forest Carbon Offset Protocol, and verified to the BC Emissions Offset Regulation. These actions are guided by the community forest’s Ecosystem Based Management plan, and delivered on the land through reduced harvest volumes, extended harvest rotations, expanded reserves, and protection of old growth forests and other important wildlife habitat. These voluntary actions go above and beyond regulatory requirements, and are informed by the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
About the Cheakamus Community Forest
The Cheakamus Community Forest encompasses more than 30,000 hectares of land surrounding Whistler. It was established in April 2009 when the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) jointly signed a 25-year tenure with the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range. These three equal partners oversee the management and operation of the forest under the auspices of the Cheakamus Community Forest Society, an independent not-for-profit organization.
Community forests are different from other tenures because they are managed by the community, for the benefit of the community. The Cheakamus Community Forest actively works with local stakeholders to develop forest harvesting and management plans that benefit the larger community, such as protecting viewsheds, cultural assets, and important habitats.
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is a proud partner of the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival.