When it comes to climate contribution, GHG reduction projects – converted into carbon credits – that create additional benefits, other than simply reducing GHG emissions, are increasingly sought after. These projects, named co-benefits, which can have additional positive environmental impacts (e.g., reductions in emissions of various air pollutants 1, reductions in residues sent to the waste stream and resulting contaminants 2, etc.), can also have positive social and economic impacts. Although they can be classified among the broad categories usually used for sustainable development, analyzing these carbon credits according to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is an interesting approach, since these goals allow buyers to better understand how their climate contribution can be an additional tool in achieving their sustainable development objectives.
To illustrate the importance of co-benefits in a carbon offsetting project, we will present in the following series of blogs the different SDGs implemented through WILL’s Sustainable Community Initiative. For the first post in this series, we will focus on SDG #9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
WILL’s Sustainable Community (SC) touches upon several sub-objectives of SDG 9, in particular through micro-projects 3 on energy efficiency and conversion. Although these infrastructure projects are carried out by a variety of organisations, they are particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by allowing them to participate on a cost-sharing basis in an umbrella carbon project bringing them together in the Community. This allows them to reduce their operating costs, improve their efficiency and distinguish themselves in their industry by offering products and services with a reduced environmental impact. SC’s touches upon three of the five sub-objectives:
9.2 Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.
In Canada, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 90 per cent of private sector employment, which is mainly in the service sector. By improving their equipment through carbon revenues, SMEs participating in WILL’s SC increase their competitiveness and can even lower their operating costs, which contributes to the long-term viability of their activities.
9.3 Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets.
Participation in the voluntary carbon market in the Sustainable Community is an alternative form of financing for all kinds of small organisations with more limited financial capacities that only have access to it through the pooling of expertise and costs related to the monetisation of carbon credits. For carbon credit buyers, this is a concrete way to help finance the energy and ecological transition.
9.4 By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.
Micro-projects carried out by SC members reduce the consumption of non-renewable energy (especially petroleum products) and thus make a transition to industries that are both more resource efficient and reduce the direct environmental impact of their activities (such as GHGs and other polluting emissions such as SOx and micro-particles)
For example, here are some SC projects that embody the objectives of SDG 9:
Wapishish Outfitter, located in the Valin Mountains region of Saguenay, is located in an isolated area and is not connected to the Quebec power grid. The outfitter therefore used noisy and polluting diesel generators to produce the electricity necessary for its activities and to welcome its visitors. With a view to sustainable development and improving the experience for guests, the company installed solar panels coupled with batteries and thus was able to decrease the operating time of its generators from 16 to 2 hours per day. This translates to a decrease in consumption of several thousand litres of gas each year while ensuring an adequate electricity supply.
780 Brewster is a former industrial building in southwest Montreal. During its conversion into an office building, great attention was paid to the reuse of existing materials as well as to improving energy efficiency through better roof insulation and the installation of new high-performance heating and electrical systems. The care taken by the architectural firm Lemay in its renovations has enabled this high energy performance building to obtain LEED Silver certification.
Louiseville Specialty Materials is a manufacturer of insulating and soundproofing materials for the construction industry, located in the Maskinongé region. By manufacturing a range of recyclable soundproofing panels based on post-consumer wood waste intended for landfill, the company avoids the production of GHGs while following a circular economic approach.
1- Such as NOx, SOx, particulate matter and other air contaminants: https://www.canada.ca/fr/environnement-changement-climatique/services/pollution-atmospherique/polluants/principaux-contaminants.html
2 – Leachate water loaded with various pollutants: https://www.canada.ca/fr/environnement-changement-climatique/services/inventaire-national-rejets-polluants/liste-substances.html
3 – Project generating a volume of GHG reductions too small to be profitable on the voluntary carbon market.