British Columbia: Emission Offsets Regulation

Currently active offsets regulation for BC provincial public sector operations (as of 1/2011).

Market Size and Scope
Offset Project Eligibility
Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies
Project Approval Process


Type of Standard and Context

British Columbia’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act (GGRTA) was passed in November 2007 and came into force on January 1, 2008. The GGRTA established targets for reducing provincial GHG emissions from all government operations in British Columbia (BC) to 33% below 2007 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2007 levels by 2050 (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, S.B.C. 2007). In addition, the GGRTA requires all organizations included in the Gorvenment Reporting Entity, from 2010 onward, to be carbon neutral. All public sector organizations (PSOs) including (core government, school boards, universities, colleges, health authorities and Crown corporations) must measure their GHG emissions, plan and take actions to minimize GHG emissions, apply emission offsets to net all remaining emissions to zero and report out publicly Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, Carbon Neutral Government Regulation, B.C. Reg. 392/2008).

BC’s Ministry of Environment has established an Emission Offsets Regulation that sets out requirements for GHG reductions and removals from projects or actions to be recognized as GGRTA offsets (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, Emission Offsets Regulation, B.C. Reg. 393/2008). To be recognized as emission offsets under the Emission Offsets Regulation the GHG reductions generated by the project activity must be acquired by the Pacific Carbon Trust (PCT). The detailed Guidance Document to the BC Emission Offsets Regulation is available on the PCT website.

Standard Authority and Administrative Bodies

The BC Ministry of Environment serves as the regulatory authority for the BC emission offsets regulation. 

Pacific Carbon Trust is a provincial Crown corporation with a mandate "to deliver quality BC-based greenhouse gas offsets to help clients meet their carbon reduction goals and to support growth of this industry in BC”. Pacific Carbon Trust is the designated organization from which provincial public sector organizations must acquire emission offsets to meet their compliance obligations.

Regional Scope

At this time, the BC emission offsets regulation only applies to GHG emission reduction activities in the Canadian province of British Columbia. 

Recognition of Other Standards/ Linkage with Other Trading Systems

Currently there are no linkages with other trading systems. The GGRTA includes provisions to enable linkages with other offset systems, and to ensure that the adoption of other regulations is not restricted.

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Market Size and Scope

Tradable Unit and Pricing Information

All emissions reductions and removals purchased by Pacific Carbon Trust under the GRRTA will be expressed in terms of metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Pricing information is not publicly available.


Provincial public sector organizations are required to participate in the emission offset system to comply with the GGRTA. The Pacific Carbon Trust also supplies offsets to other clients, including businesses, NGOs and individuals. In addition, as of early 2011, 179 out of 189 communities in B.C. have voluntarily committed to becoming carbon neutral and may choose to source offsets from the Pacific Carbon Trust.

Current Project Portfolio

Pacific Carbon Trust has signed agreements to purchase offsets from 24 projects, as of Sept. 2011. These 24 offset projects are made up of improved forest management, biomass energy system, state-of-the-art drilling, energy efficiency in greenhouses, fuel switching, hybrid heating systems, wood waste utilization, oils and gas aggregation and clean tech project types. Offset project information is available here.

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Offset Project Eligibility

Project Types

There are no current project type restrictions.

Project Locations

All offset projects must be located in British Columbia.

Project Size

There are no project size restrictions.

Start Date 

Offset projects must have a start date no earlier than November 29, 2007

Crediting Period

All offset projects have a ten year 'validation period' unless otherwise ordered by the Director of the Climate Change Branch of the Ministry of Environment. At the end of this period, proponents may apply to renew the project under a new validated project plan. These submissions will be considered as new projects that must meet the regulatory requirements.
Longer crediting periods, referred to as ‘validation periods’ are anticipated for forestry projects.

Co-benefit Objectives and Requirements

The regulation does not specify objectives or requirements concerning co-benefits of the project.

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Additionality Requirements and Project Methodologies

Additionality Requirements

As specified in the emissions offsets regulation, all projects must meet the following additionality criteria:

  • baseline scenario must reflect existing or proposed regulatory requirements;
  • baseline scenario must incorporate all relevant incentives and grants;
  • financial implications of carrying out the baseline scenario must suggest it would occur in the absence of the project;
  • demonstration that the project faces financial, technological, or other barriers that are overcome, or partially overcome by the incentive of the reduction being recognized as emission offsets

Project Methodologies

Two groups of protocols can exist: Director's Protocols (designated by the Director identified under the Carbon Neutral Government Regulation) and Proponent Protocols (not designated by the director). Where a director’s protocol exists for a class of project, that protocol must be employed. Otherwise, project proponents are able to employ any applicable protocol that meets the requirements of the regulation. As of Jan. 2011, no Director's protocols exist. Suggested quantification protocols, for forestry, renewable energy, transportation, and oil & gas are available here.

Permanence of carbon sequestration or carbon capture and storage projects is addressed by requiring the development of a risk-mitigation and contingency plan. The BC Emissions Offsets Regualtion uses a 100 year time-scale to measure the effect of sequestration projects. The risk-mitigation and contingency plan may include: a plan for maintenance and protection of sinks, description of legal means for long-term protection, a plan for monitoring any reversal, a description of arrangements to address the risk of reversal, a description of discounts applied in the calculation of project reductions, and a description of any arrangements made to replace credits in the event of a reversal.

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Project Approval Process

Validation and Registration

As of Dec. 6, 2010, validation and verification bodies must be accredited (or enrolled in a program for accreditation) by a member of the International Accreditation Forum (e.g. Standard Council of Canada and American National Standards Institute) in accordance with relevant ISO standards in the sectoral scope of the project. The same person may not serve as both the validation body and the verification body.

Monitoring, Verification and Certification

Before offsets can be recognized under the regulation, an offset project report must be submitted to a verification body for review. The verification body must verify the offset project report in a manner consistent with ISO 14064-3.
The same requirements for the validation body apply for the verification body and are described above.

Registries and Fees

Under the BC regulation, project proponents must include in the project plan an assertion that they have a superior claim of ownership to the GHG reduction. Additionally, one of the requirements for the recognition of a GHG reduction as an offset is that the reduction has not previously been recognized as an offset under GRRTA or in another offset program. Pacific Carbon Trust publicly tracks offsets retired on behalf of clients on its website.

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