The ocean critically influences our atmosphere, and a changing climate has serious consequences for our coasts and way of life. With this in mind, the WSL pledges to become carbon neutral by the end of 2019 by offsetting travel, business operations, and commuting emissions.
The WSL is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in and supporting projects such as REDD+ (reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects that have a focus on restoring and protecting natural ecosystems and renewable energy ecosystems and are based in each of the WSL's regions. For example:
- In Asia Pacific: The Katingan Mentaya project in Borneo is a REDD+ peat swamp forest that fights deforestation from mining and palm oil plantations. VCS and Triple Gold Certified project recognized for its positive social impacts (34 communities; 45k people) and biodiversity (5 Critically Endangered, 8 Endangered, and 31 Vulnerable species).
- In South America: The Santa Vitoria do Palmar and Chui wind farm in Brazil (a United Nations Clean Development Mechanism Certified Emission Reduction project) which powers 400,000 homes, and the ceramic factories of Argibem, São Sebastião, and Vulcão which run on renewable biomass instead of native timber from endangered and unique Brazilian ecosystems, and also has positive social impacts in the community schools.
- In Africa: The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust located in Kenya, which supports the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, restores biodiversity and creates alternative livelihoods.
- In North America: Almost 24,000 acres of protected Redwood forest protected from traditional logging to store carbon and safeguard endangered wildlife (Coho Salmon and Northern Spotted Owl) in the coastal watersheds of the Garcia River Forests in Mendocino County.
The WSL will also reduce its carbon footprint by regionalizing its operation, limiting non-essential travel and implementing policies to reduce carbon emissions at its offices.
The WSL carbon offset program is calculated and curated in partnership with STOKE (Sustainable Tourism & Outdoors Kit for Evaluation), a certification organization with standards built specifically for surf and mountain tourism operators, destinations, and affiliated events.
Some facts that propelled the WSL pledge to become carbon neutral by the end of 2019:
- Because of increased global temperatures, the ocean has absorbed more than 90 percent of the excess heat in the atmosphere, which causes more frequent and intense storms and dangerously rising sea levels. (Laffoley, D., & Baxter, J. (2016). Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences.)
- Sea level is expected to rise by 2-3 feet by the end of this century, and over 6 feet is plausible. Sea level has already risen 10 inches since 1900 due to warming oceans and melting ice. (IPCC, 2013: Summary for Policymakers.)
- Sea level rise will threaten over 150 million people by the end of this century. (Kopp et al., 2017, Earth's Future)
Oceans make up over 70% of the earth's surface and are responsible for: regulating our global climate, providing us with food we depend on for survival, and cleaning the air we breathe. Our one ocean is also the world's largest storehouse for carbon with more than 80% of the carbon cycle circulating through the waves we ride.
With carbon emissions continuing to rise, our oceans are taking on more energy and heat, which results in rising sea levels and temperatures. This continual absorption of CO2 also leads to increased acidity, which combined with warming temperatures, is changing the basic composition of our ocean leading to the destruction of coral reefs. Our reefs not only provide us with some of the breaks we cherish most, but are entire ecosystems to many species that rely on them for food and protection. In addition, they serve as the primary source of protein for most coastal communities.
While business and governments play a large part in improving the health of our climate, individual actions are instrumental in creating global change. Take individual action today by making your pledge to #StopTrashingWaves and help build a healthy global climate by:
- Biking/skating more, driving less (why: reducing your carbon footprint and use of fossil fuels makes a big difference for our planet)
- Driving less and Carpooling more
- Taking public transit
- Eating local (why: because locally produced food has a much lower carbon footprint than items that are shipped across the planet)
- Eating organic (why: because organic is healthier for our soil, our planet, and thus, our ocean)
- Eating less meat (why: producing meat has a high environmental footprint in terms of carbon production and water and land use)
- Eating less dairy
- Buying food in bulk
- Composting food waste
- Vote! (why: because voting for policy leaders who supporting strong climate policy helps to effect change)
- Working to spread awareness on the climate crisis
- Supporting clean energy sources - such as wind, solar, or geothermal.
- Switching to energy efficient light bulbs and LED lights
- Turning off electronics when not in use to save energy
- Supporting sustainable companies and brands who are actively reducing their carbon emissions
Support our partners who are committed to finding solutions to reduce our climate impact.