Climate Friendly Events and Conferences on Campus and Beyond

from Wildlife Promise

Montreal2005logo_100Can campuses and other institutions hold climate friendly events and conferences? This week’s activities in Montreal, Canada, suggests we can. This week is the eleventh session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Kyoto Protocol in Montréal, Canada. Organizers of the conference have announced it will be carbon neutral (meaning it will result in no net emissions of carbon dioxide) or better.

According to the conference press release all climate altering emissions related to the conference and more will be offset. Hydro-Québec and its partners, for example, have adopted measures that will significantly offset the amount of greenhouse gases (approximately 60 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions) and the Corporation Saint-Laurent / Jour de la Terre’s project will plant 10,000 trees in 100 Quebec communities beginning with Montréal. In all, 70 kilotonnes of CO2 emissions will be offset.

By hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference as a carbon neutral event, the Government of Canada hopes to lead by example in the area of climate change mitigation, as well as help to set a precedent for future international meetings.

More specific climate-friendly conference preparations include:

  • Encouraging sustainable transportation options for delegates including: vehicles for official use are gas/electric hybrids and vehicles that run on 85 per cent ethanol.
  • Fueling all gasoline vehicles with low-level blended ethanol and all diesel vehicles with B5 biodiesel.
  • Providing all drivers who will operate official Conference vehicles with defensive driver training, which included information on green driving techniques (i.e. anti-idling, etc.)
  • Implementing an anti-idling policy at the Montréal airport, many hotels hosting delegates and the Biosphere and other COP venues for taxis and other vehicles;
  • Issuing transit passes for public transportation to both delegates and volunteers on demand.
  • Setting up 30 multi-capture recycling centers as well as 500 blue bins for paper at The Palais des Congrès.
  • Sending excess food from operations at the Palais des congrès to local food shelters.

Significantly reducing the amount of paper information included in the delegate kit bags distributed to every delegate.

  • Printing all paper distributed to delegates on at least 30 per cent recycled content paper.
  • Making Fair Trade coffee available to delegates in the Cool Canada Café and other locations within the Palais des congrès.
  • Purchasing wind powered computer certificates through the Pembina Institute to offset the electricity used to power the computers within the Palais des congrès and laptops used by delegates. This information will be made available to media and delegates.
  • Contacting most hotels within the Montréal area hosting COP delegates with suggestions on how to help green their hotel.

The body of precedent for green conferences and meetings is growing. See the latest edition of NWF’s Campus Ecology Yearbook for a case study on the College of the Atlantic’s “Zero-Waste Graduation Ceremony” or you can also find information about it here in this blog. The Democratic National Convention in 2004 provided another cutting edge example.