Carbon Offsets: Over the past few years, the Parks Trees Team has found ways to nearly double the number of trees planted in Burlington annually to help strengthen the local urban forest. City trees provide tremendous benefits – absorbing carbon, making neighborhoods more beautiful and inviting, helping manage stormwater runoff, and countering heat-island effects in urban settings.
Currently, the City does not have sufficient funding to keep up the higher rate of plantings next fiscal year – even though the Trees Team has found innovative ways of reducing the cost of planting each tree. Following City Council approval on August 12, the City is now exploring the potential of accessing carbon offset markets to find new revenues to support tree planting while simultaneously reducing the burden on property tax payers. Carbon offsets can be a powerful tool to fight climate change – they allow the market to put a price on carbon pollution and create incentives to reduce it by making such pollution more expensive.
The City has put a unique framework in place for this new effort by establishing a dedicated reserve fund so if any revenue is raised by the sale of offsets, it will be used exclusively to support tree planting (thus creating new carbon sequestration benefits). Further, the City is sharply limiting what entities can purchase Burlington offsets, prioritizing certified B-Corporations, non-profits, educational institutions, and public entities. Given these limitations, it is possible that these offsets will not sell on the market.
For more information about the City’s continuous improvement efforts, or the BTVStat performance management system, please contact Carolyn Felix, BTVStat Analyst (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Brian Lowe, Chief Innovation Officer (email@example.com). Thank you.