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Whistler now offering carbon-neutral holidays

EcoPath allows visitors to offset emissions while booking trips

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Visitors coming to enjoy the mountain air don’t have to worry about the quality of the air they left behind them, with the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Tourism Whistler launching EcoPath — an online tool that lets people see the carbon emissions they produced getting to Whistler, and to purchase carbon offsets.

Ecopath is available on the Whistler.com website at www.whistler.com/ecopath, which is the official booking agency for the resort and the main portal for many visitors planning trips to Whistler.

For example, using the online calculator provided, a round trip flight from Toronto to Vancouver followed by a bus ride to Whistler will produce 1,342 kilograms of carbon dioxide — most of it (1,329 kg) produced by the flight.

From there you have the option of purchasing a carbon offset for $26.84 from Offsetters Climate Neutral Society, a non-profit society that invests funds in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Some of Offsetters’ projects include industrial heat recovery systems, ground source heat pump systems, solar thermal systems, biodiesel production from waste fuelstocks, high efficiency biomass stoves, efficient lighting systems, and biogas digesters. Up to 80 per cent of the money paid to Offsetters goes directly to projects, while the remainder covers overhead and administration.

Encouraging visitors to use a carbon offset program has been a goal of the resort for several years, and it was included in the Whistler 2020 sustainability plan. The EcoPath model also received funding from the provincial government’s Community Action on Energy Efficiency program.

While some airlines and booking agencies also allow users to purchase carbon offsets, EcoPath is unique because the calculator allows more travelling options, such as car, bus, SUV, hybrid car and Limo. Also, the calculator allows the cost of a carbon offset to be divided by the number of passengers using a vehicle.

For example a round trip from Calgary by car produces 394 kg of carbon dioxide. For a single passenger vehicle the cost to offset is $7.88, while two people in the car would pay $3.94 each.

The calculator can be used by Whistler 2020 to better estimate carbon dioxide levels, as well as to educate the public about the greenhouse gas emissions associated with different kinds of travel. The same trip from Calgary by bus would cost $4.20, or $2.10 per person while producing just 210 kg of carbon dioxide.

In addition to the calculator and offset program, EcoPath can also educate visitors on other community and Tourism Whistler initiatives like Whistler 2020, the “Green Meetings” program, and how to reduce their carbon footprint while visiting the resort.

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