Taking steps toward a healthier relationship with Earth
The Earth is a powerful educator on Dragons programs, and we recognize it as a stakeholder in our business. As a step toward giving the Earth the respect it deserves, Where There Be Dragons has partnered with NativeEnergy to offset the greenhouse gasses our business produces.
WHAT DOES OFFSETTING MEAN?
When you purchase offset credits, you help fund projects that reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Some projects take carbon out of the atmosphere, while others prevent more carbon from being emitted. Credits are measured in equivalent tonnes (metric tons) of carbon dioxide (CO2). One offset credit equals one tonne of CO2 equivalent avoided or removed from the atmosphere, compensating for one tonne emitted elsewhere.
Dragons carbon offsets support the Jagers Ranch Conservation Project in Bent County, Colorado, USA—just a few hours away from Dragons HQ in Boulder. The project will allow the Southern Plains Land Trust to buy 6,600 acres of grassland and prevent it from being farmed or developed. Preserving the grassland will prevent carbon stored in the soil from being released, keeping an estimated 190,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere over the next 50 years. (The equivalent of 40,000 years of emissions from one car!)
WHAT EXACTLY IS DRAGONS OFFSETTING?
Dragons offset purchases are divided into two categories: our administrative carbon footprint and our footprint from program flights.
In 2019, Dragons offset our entire administrative footprint: 517 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Among other things, this includes: energy consumption in our office space, employee commutes, air travel and hotels for administrative gatherings and our instructor orientations, and travel for outreach to schools and students. For future years, Dragons will reduce this footprint by making adjustments to our office infrastructure and shifting the ways we travel. We will continue purchasing offsets for emissions we can’t reduce.
Dragons’ largest impact comes from international flights to and from our programs. Program flights amount to over 4,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year—an average of 4.15 tonnes per traveler. Beginning in 2020, offsets for air travel emissions will be included in the cost of all summer, semester, and partnership programs. At the end of each season, Dragons will calculate the total emissions from the season’s flights and purchase the appropriate number of offsets.
ARE OFFSETS A LEGITIMATE CLIMATE STRATEGY?
Offsets can constitute part of a broader climate strategy. Some emissions are difficult to reduce, and offsets offer a transitional way to reduce the harm of these “necessary” emissions (i.e. for Dragons international flights).
However, offsets are not a one-stop climate solution. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that to curtail climate change, we must reach global carbon neutrality by 2050. Not enough emissions can be offset to reach this goal. If we want to address climate change, we need to focus on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions using all available strategies, from small lifestyle changes to big technological advances. Offsets will play a role in achieving this goal, but they won’t be enough. We must reduce carbon emissions across the board.
WHAT ELSE IS DRAGONS DOING TO REDUCE ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT?
Dragons recognizes that offsetting our carbon footprint is not enough to bring us to a restorative relationship with the Earth. In addition to offsets, Dragons engages in the following environmental sustainability initiatives:
- EXPERIENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION. Dragons programs expose students to different ways of living that challenge cultures of materialism and give students the context, tools, and experience to act with compassion for the Earth. Returning home, students make changes in their own lives, educate others, and shift the culture around them.
- CLIMATE CHANGE CURRICULUM. Dragons instructors have long incorporated lessons about climate change and environmental stewardship into their programs. Dragons is making climate education a growing element of our curriculum, drawing from our instructors and community partners’ many years of expertise.
- ACTIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN OUR HOST COMMUNITIES. Dragons students learn firsthand about environmental issues and restorative practices from our community partners across the world. Dragons sustains relationships with a host of amazing organizations, from the Instituto Mesoamericano de la Permacultura in Guatemala to the Chengdu Urban Rivers Association in China and the many other partners listed on our blog. We also support organizations like Groundwork near our office in Colorado.
- IMPROVED OFFICE INFRASTRUCTURE. Dragons is changing our office practices to align with our climate goals. These changes include actions like programming our thermostat, beefing up our office composting, switching to LED lightbulbs, reusing packaging, and sourcing more sustainable paper. Though it can be challenging to balance some of these initiatives with our budget and business needs, we aim to continue improving our performance every year.
- ADMINISTRATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY. Dragons includes environmental stewardship in our administrative employee job expectations and performance reviews. This means that we expect all members of our office to prioritize environmental responsibility in their actions and decision-making.