Anwaatin, an Indigenous environmental company that works with Indigenous communities is selling carbon offsets in voluntary markets, and working towards a goal of guiding the Indigenous community towards partnerships within the cap and trade markets.
A carbon offset is a credit for the reduction of greenhouse gas by one organization that is available for purchase by another organization to offset their emissions.
Carbon offsets can typically be bought and sold through brokers. For example, a solar energy company could sell carbon offsets and use the profits to help make their project more viable and the buyer can claim their purchase benefited non-polluting energy, which helps to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to solar farms, carbon offsets can include wind farms, methane capture from landfills or livestock and reforestation which helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Essentially, carbon offsets are purchased to offset the carbon footprint produced by the organization, business or individual.
It’s a complicated concept with a complex business model, but Larry Sault, the CEO of Anwaatin believes they are the best in the business.
Anwaatin, which means “Calm Weather” in Ojibway, is armed and ready for battle against climate change.
“Two pathways – fighting climate change and revitalizing treaty relationships – are now coming together. And that’s a good thing for everybody. When you’re battling climate change, you need warriors. We are those warriors. Our weapons are not guns. We’re armed with wisdom and love for the natural world. We are Stewardship Warriors,” said Sault in a quote on the company website.
“Our primary objective is to encourage [the] indigenous communities to gain action around climate change,” said Mary Kate Gilbertson, who is working in sales with the new business.
At this time Anwaatin is selling carbon offsets to voluntary organizations, businesses, and even individuals.
One of their local clients is local B Corp certified business The Neighbourhood Group, which consists of multiple restaurants in the City of Guelph, including The Woolwich Arrow.
Gilberston said the voluntary businesses and individuals who are taking the steps to measure their carbon footprint are leaders in producing environmental change.
She has been meeting with people interested in measuring their carbon footprint, and guiding them through the steps to purchase the appropriate amount of carbon offset. Because we are constantly creating pollution and using resources, carbon offsets are typically purchased monthly.
The carbon offsets being sold to the voluntary market are older offsets created by local companies that have policies and supply-chain relationships that support Indigenous communities.
The funds earned through the selling of the carbon offsets aren’t lining the pockets of the business owners, rather, they are going towards the creation of more carbon offsets through the Indigenous communities, which will be then sold to cap and trade markets in Ontario, Quebec, California, and Mexico.
Cap and trade legislation is new to Ontario, with legislation coming into effect next year. The general idea is that large companies will be regulated on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced. Those that produce less will benefit financially, and the bigger producers will have to spend more on carbon offsets and trade deals. The Ontario government is hoping to reduce the environmental impact of large organizations and companies in the province.
Companies participating in cap and trade will be able to purchase carbon offsets from Indigenous communities through Anwaatin.
“It’s a huge process to create the carbon offsets. There is lots of technical work in going to the community and mapping out the steps,” said Gilbertson.
Anwaatin offers the technical support needed to Indigenous communities to get them started on their journey.
“Right now we are travelling through communities and communicating the possibilities,” she added.
Some of the ways that the carbon offsets will be produced within the community include reforestation, green energy, and capturing methane gas from landfills to produce energy.
“We are trying to heal the landscape,” Gilbertson said.