City staff may soon see an additional carbon price fee attached to their air travel charges. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria council looks to self-impose carbon tax on staff airfare

A new carbon pricing fee would put additional funds into the city’s Climate Action Reserve

Victoria City Council may soon instate a carbon pricing fee on top of its corporate air travel budget.

A motion put forward by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Coun. Laurel Collins hopes to add an additional $150 per tonne to the cost of their budgeted flights in a continued effort to apply a “climate lens” to their actions, as a part of the city’s developing Corporate Energy and Emissions Management System (CEEMS).

“In a climate emergency we should have to pay a carbon price for our air travel, it just makes sense,” said Helps. “It’s not just symbolic, it’s a real price.”

ALSO READ: City of Victoria releases draft 2019 budget

The carbon price would be determined by using a carbon price calculator through the city’s finance department. As an example, staff said an economy round trip flight from Victoria to Vancouver would produce .02 tonnes of carbon emissions, totalling an additional $30, while a return trip to Toronto would cost an additional $189.

In 2018 city staff took approximately 100 trips by air, with 40 of the flights going between Victoria and Vancouver. If the fees had been in place for 2018 travels, the city would have paid an additional $6,000.

The additional funds would come from the city’s travel budget and go directly to the Climate Action Reserve fund, which as of December 2018 sat at $794,445.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria officials take climate emergency request to CRD

“I did my carbon calculation, and being the mayor there’s a carbon footprint that goes with it,” Helps said, adding that in her personal life she never travels by air. “But if we are going to travel for work, which we need to do time to time, we should pay a carbon price.”

Currently, the city’s travel budget is $383,000 annually for the mayor, council and city staff members.

Helps said that while the fee isn’t in place to discourage travel, the additional costs may decrease the number of trips staff can take on the city’s budget.

“We are taking a climate lens to all of our city’s operations,” she said. “People can expect to see little policies like this on an ongoing basis.”

If the motion passes in council on Thursday, April 26, the fees would come into effect immediately.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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