C02 Negative: The world’s first C02 Negative Gap Year Programming
The world is waking up to the impact of travel and emissions on the atmosphere and we believe that each of us has a responsibility to act to reduce our own impact, in whatever ways we can.
In 2021 Irish Gap Year became the world’s first, C02 Negative gap year company. This means that we remove more carbon from the atmosphere than we create as a company. In fact, we pledge to remove twice the C02 that each of our programs creates. All measurable C02 usage is included in our calculations. This accounts for C02 produced by student flights, electricity usage in student housing, transportation in Ireland and Europe, office usage and more.
Since the science and mathematics involved in becoming C02 Negative can be quite complicated, we work with internationally accredited climate intervention companies along with Irish specialists to ensure that we are keeping up our pledge of C02 Negative Programming.
Our Journey to C02 Negative
Our journey to becoming C02 negative began in the winter of 2021 in an effort align the ecological footprint of Irish Gap Year with our company values of sustainability, love for nature and protection of the environment.
We asked our gap year students to calculate the C02 footprint of their program, including all measurable usage and present options that could be taken to reduce the C02 emissions of their program to zero. The students came back to us with a polished and insightful presentation that was compelling and painted a clear picture. There was much room for improvement for Irish Gap Year and following more research and collaboration with our students a decision was made to go carbon negative from that point on.
How It Works
Becoming carbon negative is achievable through a combination of investment, local C02 insetting projects, and an overall reduction in C02 usage and education.
We carefully analyse each program’s C02 emissions along with our annual company emissions to calculate our annual CO2 footprint. Using this information, we invest in C02 reducing and sequestering projects with Gold Standard, the industry leader in climate intervention. Our investment with Gold Standard offsets unavoidable C02 emissions associated with our programming such as flights and transport within Ireland.
Examples of International Projects:
Local Projects & C02 Insetting
Local projects provide a valuable intersection of C02 reduction, education and community engagement. Our gap year students will community members on a range of C02 insetting projects in the northwest of Ireland. The amount of C02 removed through the lifespan of each project is measured and work-shopped with students, creating student buy-in and giving hope that we can indeed take action against climate change
Some local projects:
- Tree Planting: One native Irish hardwood removes an average of 1 tonne of C02 throughout its lifespan. Planting native trees equals less C02 and a healthier ecosystem. Our autumn ’21 cohorts have planted over 700 native Irish trees which will remove a total of 11,000 tonnes of C02 from the atmosphere over their lifespan.
- Bio-Char Making: Biochar is used for both carbon sequestration and soil health benefits. The process of making biochar involves burning off the H20 content of any untreated timber, turning it into a char that is buried in the soil, both enriching the soil and locking the carbon into the ground where it will be very slowly released back into the atmosphere (we’re talking thousands of years here!).
- Mini Food Forest Boxes: Building mini food-forest boxes with infographics help to create awareness locally on how much C02 certain trees and edible plants remove from the atmosphere and how plants work together in a state of symbiosis. The boxes also help to ‘green-up’ town centres, reminding residents that nature is good.
- Composting: Building and maintaining a good composter is a great way to reduce wastage, increase your gardens soil health and reduce landfill. Our students will keep a home compost during their programs and help to maintain our IGY compost at Castle Park.
Through education, we learn how to reduce our impact on the environment and lower our C02 emissions. Practical solutions are out there and do work.
Local: Castle Park Ecological Workshops
We regularly host a range of ecological workshops for our gap year students and the local community at Castle Park, our student built eco park and outdoor classroom. Workshop topics include: organics, biochar production, composting, C02 analysis and actions for IGY, foraging, creating healthy soils and more.
Regional: Green Education Ireland
In 2021 we helped found Green Education Ireland, combining forces with other Irish education companies to create an organization devoted to the reduction of C02 emissions within the Irish education sector.
International: Gap Year Association
Irish Gap Year Founding Director, Ryan Allen is a member of the Sustainability Committee of the Gap Year Association and is currently working to help other accredited gap year companies reduce their C02 footprint, with the goal of a carbon-negative GYA in the future.