Carbon Neutral Framework

Carbon neutral local government

Carbon neutral local government is about BC’s local governments demonstrating leadership and progress in reducing emissions from both corporate operations and the broader community. Local governments are responsible for vehicle fleets, buildings, and infrastructure. They also make long lasting decisions through their authority over land use, transportation, and waste management.

Local Government Climate Action Program

Local Government Climate Action Program

The new Local Government Climate Action Program (LGCAP) provides local governments and Modern Treaty Nations with predictable and stable funding to support reducing emissions and preparing for the impacts of a changing climate. LGCAP is built on the foundations of CleanBC and the BC Climate Action Charter (the Charter).

For the first year of LGCAP (2022) reporting on corporate carbon neutrality is not required. Reporting will become a mandatory component for 2023 and beyond. Carbon neutrality is not a component of the LGCAP at this time, but the carbon neutral framework remains available as a resource to local governments for corporate emissions measurement and reporting and to meet their commitments under the Charter.

The Carbon Neutral Framework: a common approach

Since 2007, almost every BC local government has voluntarily become a signatory of the BC Climate Action Charter, committing to take actions and develop strategies to achieve the following three goals:

  • Work toward carbon neutrality in their corporate operations
  • Measure and report on their community emissions
  • Create complete, compact, and energy efficient communities

In consultation with local governments, the Green Communities Committee (GCC) developed a common approach, the Carbon Neutral Framework, to evaluate progress working toward corporate carbon neutrality for the purposes of the Charter.

The Carbon Neutral Framework includes the following four steps:

  1. Measure your local government’s total corporate emissions
  2. Reduce the emissions where possible
  3. Balance the remaining emissions through the purchase of credible carbon offsets and/or through investments in local reduction projects
  4. Report to the public on the actions your local government have taken

Resources are available to assist local governments in navigating the four-step approach.

Using the framework and workbook: what and how to measure

The Carbon Neutral Workbook provides guidance to local governments on what is in scope to measure and offset within the boundaries of their corporate emissions using the four-step process of the framework (measure, reduce, balance/offset, report) to become carbon neutral and focuses on how to measure corporate emissions from local government facilities and operations. This includes the following scope of services, which is referred to in the workbook as “traditional services” of local government:

  • Administration and governance
  • Drinking water, stormwater and wastewater
  • Solid waste collection, transportation and diversion (not including packaging and printed paper)
  • Road maintenance and traffic operations
  • Arts, recreation and cultural services
  • Fire protection

The workbook provides:

  • An explanation as to what carbon neutrality is
  • A description of which corporate operations (traditional services) are included in the carbon neutral commitment
  • Advice on data collection
  • General questions and answers about measuring emissions

The workbook also provides options for local governments to balance their corporate emissions to zero through investments in local emissions reduction projects and/or purchased offsets. There are three options.

Option 1: GCC-supported projects

The Becoming Carbon Neutral Guidebook includes six Option 1 project profiles that local governments can use to measure reductions resulting from these projects:

Each project profile includes a worksheet for determining the annual emissions reductions associated with the project. Any work conducted in the spreadsheets needs to be saved as a separate file or as an update to the project profile document. Instructions are provided in the profile documents.

The following interactive reporting templates are available for download:

Option 2: Alternate community projects

Local governments may prefer to support community emissions reduction projects other than those described under Option 1. The guidebook also includes guidance on validating and verifying measurable and credible emission reductions from alternative community projects that a local government can use to balance corporate emissions. These projects must meet seven project eligibility requirements discussed in Appendix 1 of the guidebook.

The following interactive reporting templates are available for download: 

Emissions reduction projects developed under Options 1 and 2 of the Carbon Neutral Framework are not considered “market offsets” and are not tradable or transferable between local governments or to any other entity outside this Carbon Neutral Framework.

Option 3: Purchasing offsets

Local governments may also choose to offset their corporate carbon emissions to achieve carbon neutrality by purchasing carbon offsets from a credible offset provider. Option 3 requires local governments to undertake due diligence to ascertain that offset vendors are selling high-quality products to ensure that their purchases are resulting in real emission reductions. Three core components that local governments should be looking for when purchasing a credible carbon offset are:

  • Robust accounting methods
  • Monitoring, verification and validation processes
  • Registration and enforcement/compliance policies

Contracted services

If a local government has a contractual or partnership arrangement to deliver traditional services, some of the emissions from those services need to be included as part of the local government’s corporate inventory.

The Guidance on Including Contracted Emissions in Corporate Inventories describes:

  • What contracts should be included in corporate inventories
  • What emissions data needs to be collected
  • Steps that a local government can undertake to achieve this
  • Options for local governments to estimate fuel consumption from contracted services

The Contracted Services Emissions Calculator may be used to report on emissions from contracted services.