Groundsell iniative helps counter jet emissions

The controversial B.C. gas tax raised alarm bells when it was initially enacted, but now, some people view it as a vehicle for change.

Calgary filmmaker Justin Thurn compiles footage about Groundswell's Fly It Forward initiative.

The controversial B.C. gas tax raised alarm bells when it was initially enacted, but now, some people view it as a vehicle for change.

Groundswell Network executive director Bill Swan believes the B.C. Gas Tax has the ability to become the driving force behind an initiative to reduce our provincial carbon footprint on the Earth.

“Many (people) felt that the carbon tax would have a negative impact on the economy,” explained Swan. “When in fact, through an independent university research project done about two years ago, it was shown that not only did the B.C. Gas Tax not have a negative impact on the environment, it would appear that it had a positive impact in B.C.’s case economically.

“But it also had a positive impact environmentally because overall use of carbon fuel dropped so it met its objective.”

Swan believes the initiative helped to reduce the use of energy the province puts out and set an example for others to follow.

“It reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we were putting out as a province and it didn’t have a negative impact on the economy either so much so that other jurisdictions around the world are now looking at the B.C. carbon tax and copying it and bringing it in where they are,” said Swan. “The loophole in the carbon tax is that it does not apply to aviation fuel, so airline fuel is not subject to the carbon tax and not surprisingly, that fuel use has stayed the same and it’s even went up a bit.”

In an attempt to protect the environment from climate change, Swan and his team at the Groundswell Network have come up with a unique idea to counter the loophole in the gas tax.

“What we’re doing through the Fly It Forward program at Groundswell is creating an opportunity to voluntarily make a contribution towards your carbon emission when you go on a flight,” he said.

“We want to link that voluntary contribution through Fly It Forward to our climate change education and direct abatement strategies here at Groundswell,” said Swan.

Donations made to the Groundswell Network through the Fly It Forward program would be used to cover the cost of projects in Invermere such as youth education about growing food, local food production and renewable energy systems for the community greenhouse.

“And we’d also put it into our community compost which has direct connections to greenhouse gas reduction,” concluded Swan.

“Whenever you compost organic material, you don’t put methane producing waste into the landfill so composting is a very direct (way) to address climate change so we want to stress that Fly It Forward is a sign up program. You can do it off the Groundswell website and it’s completely voluntary,” said Swan.

The Fly It Forward program will be launched in mid-June along with a short feature film that promotes the project.

Calgary-based filmmaker Justin Thurn has been compiling footage about the initiative and the Groundswell Network to help the society promote the new initiative.

“A travel company (Adventure Canada) is going to be putting all of their employees on the Fly It Forward program,” said Thurn.

“It’s (the film) going to be played on their cruise ships to inform their clients about what they’re doing and encourage others to get on board. It’s Bill’s first priority and it’s probably the most nervewracking thing for me,” he said.

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