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The Great Bear Rainforest Initiative

Climate change action through carbon offsets.

Eight-five per cent of Bow Valley College learners are concerned about climate change and want to see the college act on environmental issues. Because of this, says Amy Spark, Sustainability Coordinator, “Bow Valley College takes the commitments of the global Sustainable Development Goals and United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples seriously.”

This week, Bow Valley College put these words into action.

In a partnership between Campus Services and the International Education department, the College recently purchased 160 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (MtCO2e) through the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. The College set this purchase amount after calculating the total amount of emissions from International Education’s 2019 air travel. The 160 tonnes we purchased covers just a bit more than that travel and puts their air travel activities carbon neutral. According to Derek Lemieux, Director, International Education, “Purchasing carbon offset credits provides an opportunity to engage in essential international travel, while mitigating the environmental impacts.”

The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project is Canada’s first Indigenous-led carbon offset program and is the world’s largest forest carbon project. By purchasing Great Bear carbon offsets, Bow Valley College not only offsets part of our carbon footprint, but it also protects a valuable forest ecosystem and invests directly in coastal First Nations communities. “Acknowledging the support of Indigenous communities to Canadians, we took the opportunity to support Indigenous-owned businesses that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” says Lemieux.

The purchase is one small step in the College’s long journey of carbon tracking, climate action, and supporting Indigenous communities across Canada. Spark describes upcoming steps, including the 2020 Bow Valley College Sustainability Report. “Purchasing these carbon credits is a small first step in accounting for the carbon emissions associated with our operations. Throughout 2021 we will also be conducting our first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory,” she says.

“The best thing we can do for biodiversity and reconciliation is to provide support directly to those communities to continue stewarding these lands as they have for thousands of years.”

If you have questions about the program, please email aspark@bowvalleycollege.ca


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