What is a Carbon Offset and What Problem Does it Fix?
Participant transportation to and from events on average accounts for 85% or more of the carbon emissions of an event, especially running events like ours. When we look at reducing our carbon footprint in hopes of addressing the climate crisis and preserving the beauty of the North Shore for the next group of Grandma’s Marathon participants, participant travel is our biggest question mark.
Transportation contributes to 1/4th of total global carbon emissions as most transportation vehicles run on fossil fuels. In order to truly address the root of the problem, this sector needs to adopt clean fuels, improve vehicle efficiency, and see a true overhaul of how we view travel.
Our knowledge of event planning (where to place traffic cones, how to hang signs with the minimum number of zip ties, and, how to mass communicate to 20,000 runners, etc.) far outweighs our knowledge of transportation. We will leave those large problems up to the experts. There is lots of hope of a revolution in the transportation industry in the next few years and we’re excited about all the potential.
Until that happened though, this is where offsets come in. Carbon Offsets are when a polluting company or individual purchases a carbon credit from a project that takes greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere to offset their emissions. Carbon credits can come in many forms including forest restoration, capturing methane at landfill sites, water management projects, etc.
We’ve partnered with NCX who is dedicated to giving small landowners the option to enter the carbon market by using technology to measure how much carbon their plot of land sequesters. Landowners across the country pledge to delay cutting down their forests. Trees sequester greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, delaying the climate crisis. Grandma’s Marathon is proud to buy credits from landowners right here in Minnesota.
Why not just cancel your event if event travel is so bad for the environment?
We want to be clear that carbon offsets are in no way a perfect solution and they in no way absolve us from working towards minimizing our carbon footprint. But in our view is an acceptable temporary solution in the current age to minimize our impact on the environment. We’re doing our best until we can do better, then we will.
While this would be the easy solution (but not a very fun one), it doesn’t seem like the right one. Environmental leakage refers to how interventions aimed at reducing environmental pressure at one site may be locally successful but can increase pressures elsewhere. By getting rid of our race, we most likely would not reduce the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere from travel. Runners would just choose a different race in a different place, most likely a race that didn’t choose to value the environment.
We challenge our runners to make sustainable choices when it comes to travel- biking, using mass transportation, and choosing local events when possible.
We’re excited to welcome you to Duluth in June and show you just how wonderful it is. Please help us preserve the beauty for all the runners to come. You can learn more about our partnership with NCX here.