In 2010, after signing on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), Bates College set out a goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020. While the gap between GHG emissions and neutrality has been significantly decreased by emissions reductions, increased energy efficiency and increased awareness of sustainability on campus, Bates still has a substantial amount of emissions to reduce over the next few years to reach neutrality. Currently, emissions resulting from Bates-associated travel, including student study abroad programs, are not included in Bates College’s total carbon footprint. This project is part of a larger proposal to quantify the amount of GHGs being emitted as a result of Bates students, faculty, and administration travelling to and from the college, known as Scope III emissions, and to explore the mitigation strategies that would most effectively reduce the environmental impact of this travel (Tom Twist, personal communication, Sept. 21, 2017).
The primary goal of this project was to further Bates College’s goal of carbon neutrality through the quantification of GHG emissions from student study abroad travel. Another major aim of this project is to propose a variety of verified offset projects and localized programs that will benefit both Bates and the greater Lewiston/Auburn community. Verified projects are necessary for aiding the college in reaching carbon neutrality, and assisting Tom Twist, the Sustainability Manager at Bates, in brainstorming options for emissions reductions and mitigation. On the other hand, local projects also have great potential for bettering the relationship between Bates and the Lewiston/Auburn community, and creating sustainable development opportunities for local residents. Most offset programs rely on distant projects, often in other countries and continents, to reduce emissions. However, this project is not solely about becoming carbon neutral, it’s also about the strategies Bates uses to reach this goal, which have the potential to benefit the community on many different levels. Accordingly, it is important for Bates to invest in offset programs directly in the greater community with the aim of improving the health, wellbeing, and sustainability of Lewiston/Auburn residents and communities, as opposed to investing in distant programs which we may never see the result of.
Keady, Caitlin and Sachs, Sarah, "Greenhouse Gas Offset Programs for Bates Study Abroad Air Travel" (2017). Community Engaged Research Reports. 43.