As part of our wider Sustainability Strategy, and in order to reduce the environmental impact of participant travel for the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games, the Canada Games purchased 1,557 tonnes of carbon offsets from Ostrom Climate’s Great Bear Forest Carbon Project. Because of these offsets, the Canada Games Council (CGC) earned Climate Friendly Flights designation for the 2022 Games.
Participant travel to the 2022 Canada Summer Games, including the purchase of carbon offsets, has been made possible through a contribution from the Government of Canada.
The Great Bear Rainforest is considered a global ecological treasure with great value to local First Nations and, as a coastal temperate rainforest, one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth. By supporting the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project, the Canada Games have contributed to an Improved Forest Management initiative, which generates emission reductions by protecting forest areas that were previously designated, sanctioned, or approved for commercial logging.
For more information on The Great Bear Forest Carbon Project, please see the video below:
What Are Carbon Offsets?
As the global focus on sustainability intensifies, the sports industry is grappling with the challenge of reducing its environmental impact to ensure the future of sport. To address the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by participant travel, many organizations, including the Canada Games, have turned to carbon offsets as a partial solution.
Our offsets involve supporting projects that reduce or remove carbon emissions elsewhere to compensate for emissions produced during participant travel. While offsets offer potential benefits, they also come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of offsetting GHG emissions:
1. Carbon Neutrality: Offsets allow the Canada Games to achieve carbon neutrality by balancing out emissions from participant travel with carbon reduction projects. This demonstrates our commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability.
2. Scalability and Flexibility: Offsets offer flexibility in addressing GHG emissions associated with participant travel, as they can be applied to various modes of transportation. This scalability allows the Canada Games Council to tailor our offsetting efforts to specific travel needs.
3. Support for Renewable Energy and Conservation Projects: Offsets often support projects related to renewable energy, reforestation, or conservation. By investing in such projects, the Canada Games Movement can contribute to the development of clean energy sources and preservation of natural habitats.
4. Education and Awareness: Offsetting initiatives provide an opportunity to educate participants and fans about climate change, carbon footprints, and the importance of sustainable practices. This awareness-raising can inspire behavioral changes beyond offsetting, promoting a broader culture of sustainability in sports.
Cons of offsetting GHG emissions:
1. Limited Efficacy in Reducing Emissions: While offsets can compensate for emissions generated during participant travel, they do not directly reduce emissions from transportation.
2. Perceived Greenwashing: Offsets need to be part of a comprehensive Sustainability Strategy rather than a standalone solution; otherwise, they can be seen as a form of greenwashing - allowing organizations to appear environmentally responsible without committing to reduce emissions at the source.
3. Social and Environmental Considerations: Some offset projects have faced criticism for displacing local communities or negatively impacting biodiversity. Ensuring the selection of high-quality offsets that adhere to recognized standards is crucial to mitigate these concerns.
4. Additionality and Additionality Integrity: Ensuring that projects funded through offsets genuinely reduce emissions that would not have occurred otherwise is critical. Verifying the additionality of projects and maintaining integrity in the offset market can be challenging and requires robust monitoring and verification systems.
Canada Games Offsets
In 2022, we worked directly with Ostrom Climate Solutions to calculate GHG emissions associated with flights taken by all participants as part of the 2022 Canada Summer Games, who determined 2,517.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) were produced from air travel.
We recognize that addressing the root cause of emissions is key to future success in minimizing and hopefully eliminating GHG emissions; however, we are not currently able to reduce 100% of our operational emissions. Because participant travel is essential to the Games taking place, the CGC made the investment in carbon offsets as we continue to broaden our sustainable initiatives.