West Coast Sightseeing is the first bus company in Vancouver to go carbon neutral!

What does being carbon neutral mean? It means that we have measured our greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions, created a reductions strategy, and neutralized those remaining emissions through carbon offsetting.  This approach means that West Coast Sightseeing has net zero ghg emissions.

What is offsetting?

We have decided to offset all our emissions from 2011 onwards using Offsetters,  the company that also provided offsets for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. When you engage in an activity that emits greenhouse gas, you can ‘offset’ that emission by purchasing an emission reduction credit.  Your offset credit creates funds for new, clean energy projects near and far. So while your emission has still occurred, your offset has enabled a reduction of greenhouse gas elsewhere.

When looking at offsets as a solution, there are several criteria that you need to look for.  Every project should be validated and verified by qualified third parties to be:

1.      Real.  Independent experts verify that each project takes place as promised.

2.      Additional. Every offset purchase contributes directly to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions because they enable projects that would otherwise not take place.

3.      Permanent. The carbon reductions of  each project are permanent reductions and are not reversible.

4.      Socially beneficial. Projects bring social and local environmental benefits as well as climate gains.

Why offset?

Well, for that you have to ask yourself – What are the other options?

Bio Diesel

Pros:

  • Bio Diesel is a fuel created from bio-matter that has just recently been harvested from above ground, and therefore no new carbon is introduced by burning it.
  • It burns cleaner than regular Diesel
  • It can be based on waste products, like beef tallow and/or used deep frier oils, among many other things

Cons:

  • Bio Diesel is most commonly derived from soy and much land that could be better used (rainforest, food crops) is being used to grow fuel now.
  • Bio Diesel has solvent properties, increasing wear and tear on seals and hoses in older Diesel engines, creating reliability issues.
  • Modern Diesel Engines built since 2007 are much cleaner burning than their predecessors, but don’t work well with Bio-Diesel.
  • Bio Diesel has a higher “freezing point” than regular Diesel, making it difficult to run at high concentrations in colder climates like ours
  • Our engine manufacturers only warranty engines to B20 – meaning 20% Bio Diesel and 80% regular Diesel
  • Bio Diesel is more expensive, especially since the BC government took away the tax rebates on Bio-fuels
  • We can’t create enough Bio Diesel to fuel our current consumption levels in the world
  • For more information on the effects of Bio Diesel and more reasons for not using it, check out Gray Line San Francisco’s Green Initiatives

Hydrogen

Pros:

  • Nothing but water comes out of the tailpipe

Cons:

  • Hydrogen does not occur freely in nature, so the energy you receive out of the fuel has to be entered somewhere else to create the hydrogen, which is great as long as that energy is not derived from carbon emitting fuels
  • Hydrogen is corrosive, so difficult to transport
  • There aren’t many places where hydrogen is currently available
  • The technology is still very expensive

Hybrid

Pros:

  • You can use breaking, coasting and downhills to regain some of the energy you have used up and therefore use less fuel.

Cons:

  • Hybrid technology works much better on light, aerodynamic vehicles, as you don’t need batteries that are as heavy to move around a beefy bus.
  • In buses the savings are much smaller and the cost due to the smaller production numbers are much bigger. Hybrids only pay for themselves in constant stop and go traffic, like a transit bus.

Offsetting

Pros:

  • You are supporting the innovation and implementation of new technologies in projects that would not otherwise be implemented
  • You are supporting projects that feature additional co-benefits in addition to emissions reductions
  • You can negate 100% of your emissions, including your office practices and your staff commuting/travel
  • Due to the magnitude of savings these projects produce, per dollar spent it is the most cost-effective way to decrease the emissions you are responsible for

Cons:

  • Negative perception – that Offsetting is often seen as “the easy way” – just pay and voila.

In conclusion:

Our philosophy at West Coast Sightseeing is to “Bring people together for dazzling experiences and memories” and we want to achieve that by:

  • Not compromising our level of service by offering our guests modern equipment that is fuel efficient and employs the best technologies
  • Being socially responsible
  • Being aware of our impact on the people and planet around us
  • Creating an environment where our guests feel good about their choice

We feel that at the current level of technologies available to us and at the current level of operation that offsetting is our method of choice.

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