The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is now able to neutralize its corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by purchasing carbon offsets locally as part of its broader Carbon Neutral Operations Plan. This is possible because of the recent signing of an agreement between the Cheakamus Community Forest near Whistler and the Province of British Columbia, which allows the community forest to generate and sell carbon offsets.
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. The Cheakamus Community Forest is located in the Whistler area.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said, “This is a win for the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Cheakamus Community Forest. For the first time, Whistler is able to purchase carbon offsets locally, which means that the municipality’s carbon offset expenditure stays within the Sea to Sky corridor and contributes to improved forest management and recreation asset management within the Cheakamus Community Forest.”
The RMOW adopted a Carbon Neutral Operations Plan in 2009, which committed the organization to achieving carbon neutrality by 2010 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. 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.
BC Climate Leadership Plan
The Province is currently developing a new Climate Leadership Plan. Members of the public are encouraged to read a discussion paper and complete an online survey to provide input for the draft plan. The survey is open until August 17.
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 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.