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  • Writer's pictureGraham Harris

Finding reverse gear. Or, why we chose tree-planting to achieve carbon neutrality.

At Firefly, we believe that the issue of climate change can only be solved by collective action, which means everyone playing their part, regardless of how big or small their impact on the climate. As part of our 2019 Carbon Footprint and Action Plan, we therefore stated our commitment that Firefly would achieve net zero emissions from 2020 onwards.

What does this mean? Net zero means that no more emissions will be put into the atmosphere than are removed (more on the concept of net zero here). It’s like balancing a climate scale. Simply put, if we are responsible for putting emissions into the atmosphere, we need to be responsible for taking the same mass of emissions out again.

We’re happy to say that we have achieved this goal. How? The answer is by funding tree-planting via the awesome folks at TreeEra, a Canadian-based social venture that works to community fund the planting of trees in British Columbia, Ontario, Africa and Costa Rica. Trees are awesome, aren’t they? They provide so many ecosystem and social benefits, from watershed management to habitat, from mental health benefits to urban aesthetics and shading, from recreational space to cleaner air.

OK, so we love trees…however, from the perspective of going carbon neutral, there is an important reason we chose this kind of project to balance out the GHG emissions we haven’t been able to remove: which is that trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere as they grow. There are many carbon offsetting projects that involve projects which prevent GHG emissions from being released – such as landfill gas capture, oil and gas methane reduction, industrial energy efficiency, and so on – and we believe that these are important projects that have a role to play in transitioning society to a low-carbon future. However, if we’re all speeding towards the future in a carbon emissions train, then these avoidance projects are only applying the brakes. What we need is to find reverse gear, and tree planting is one of the few project types that actually removes atmospheric carbon.

So, working through TreeEra, we have funded the planting of 267 mangrove trees in Madagascar by Eden Reforestation, which are anticipated to absorb ~20 tonnes CO2e over their lifetime. You can learn more about Eden Reforestation's approach and their projects at their website.

This won’t be the only time we need to turn to external solutions to help us achieve carbon neutrality – but as we continue to implement emissions reduction actions, we are hopeful that our reliance on this mechanism will lessen. In the meantime, we are excited to have achieved this goal while supporting a worthwhile tree-planting project, and committed to continue on our own journey to a low-carbon future.

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Graham Harris
Graham Harris

Hi Warren, that's very interesting to hear - sounds like a great project with multiple co-benefits! Thanks for sharing!


Warren Brooke
Warren Brooke

There is an old saying: "Trees are Good"

Okay, okay...I just made that up. But I am old, so it is still an old saying.

A very under-sold project that Calgary City Administration is doing is centered around willow trees. I mean who knew that The City is operating a willow forest? And who knew that it serves many beneficial end purposes including greenhouse gas reduction?

The plantation receives de-watered biosolids from the wastewater treatment plants which provides nutrients and organic material to what was originally "marginal" land which was rocky and very poor for growing anything. The willow trees grow very quickly and are harvested every third year to provide woody material that is essential for proper functionin…

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