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Offsets alone could halve NWT's emissions, says Alternatives North

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 5/8/2020 10:27:00 AM

The Taltson Hydro Expansion, the centrepiece of the Northwest Territories’ (NWT’s) plan to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, is an unnecessarily costly venture driven less by the needs of the climate and more by the needs of Northwest Territories Power Corporation and future potential mining developments, according to Alternatives North.

In a new report, “Climate Emergency: Getting the NWT off Diesel”, the NWT-based advocacy organization says the territory could immediately halve its greenhouse gas emissions simply by purchasing offsets, and then reduce its annual reliance on offsets with strategic investments in biomass district heating, diesel co-generation and renewable diesel.

For the purposes of the report, Alternatives North used the NWT’s 2017 emissions of 1,200 kt as a baseline and asked, what would be the most cost-effective way to cut them by half by 2030?

Its answer is surprisingly simple. By purchasing certified offsets on the open market, the territory could reduce its emissions by 600 kt almost immediately at a cost of only $15 million per year, or $25 per tonne, according to Alternatives North. Throw in biomass district heating and diesel co-generation to displace some of the offsets, and the annual cost falls to $15 per tonne when measured against a 20-year operating life.

To eliminate the use of offsets completely and maximize investment in Canada, Alternatives North recommends adding renewable diesel (assuming Canadian supply). The annual cost, averaged over a 20-year operating life, rises to $96 per tonne, but it’s still a far cry from the Taltson Hydro Expansion, which Alternatives North calculates will cost $613 per tonne annually.

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