glass earth in hand

Above and Beyond Alaska – A Juneau Climate Action Leader

Above and Beyond Alaska has taken the lead as Juneau’s tourism climate action champion.

This summer, leading Juneau tour company Above and Beyond Alaska, took direct action in support of the Juneau community, reducing greenhouse gases and helping meet the city’s climate and energy goal of reducing emissions by 80% by 2045. 

Founders Becky and Sean Janes and their company selected Renewable Juneau’s Juneau Carbon Offset Fund (JCOF) to help meet these goals, as well as round out their own company sustainability goals. JCOF uses purchased carbon offsets and personal and corporate donations to swap out fossil fuel heating systems (diesel stove, boilers, furnaces) with renewable energy powered air source heat pumps in the homes of lower income Juneau families. These carbon offset projects slash heating bills, clean and dry indoor air, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Juneau’s Tourism Best Management Practices lists ‘carbon offsetting’ as a preferred visitor industry practice. Prior to the season’s start, JCOF worked with ABAK to accurately calculate the individual carbon impact of each guest for all of the company’s tour offerings. For the 2022 season, Above and Beyond Alaska contributed a calculated average fee of $1.50 per guest as a carbon offset to the Juneau Carbon Offset Fund. In total, nearly $8,000 was raised for the Fund. These offset funds, when combined with other public and private offset purchases and donations, will facilitate the installation of heat pumps and the elimination of oil heating for lower income Juneau families. Each installation on average eliminates 500 gallons of annual heating oil and saves a family nearly $1,200 in yearly heating bills.

A key takeaway of ABAK’s climate action is its simplicity. Each visitor who goes on tour with them donates an average offset of $1.50 per person to JCOF.  Not only does JCOF benefit, but local lower income families benefit and the city moves that much closer to realizing its climate and energy goals. ABAK has generated a simple yet impactful contribution to a local effort. And, of course, this effort bolsters ABAK’s current sustainability mission, adding one more feather to their ‘responsible operator’s’ list. As the tourism industry continues to green, actions like ABAK’s only make them a more desirable business to travel with.

Read Renewable Juneau’s thank you note to ABAK in the Juneau Empire!

We dream of a time when every one of our summer cruise ship visitors offers up $1 each to one of Juneau’s or Southeast’s renewable energy or sustainability groups to create positive change in this place they visit!

On a related note, thanks to a donation from Coeur Alaska, JCOF is deep into a years-long process to achieve international certification through VERRA, a global carbon offset leader. It is our hope that the third-party stamp of approval from VERRA will open the door to more local businesses making the choice to add carbon offsetting to their sustainability menus. ABAK has shown that certification is not necessary in order for them to be proactive and take responsible climate action. The same is true with JCOF supporters Coeur AK, Sentinel Coffee, and COPPA. Others, mostly much larger players, have a desire to see third-party verification. Renewable Juneau and JCOF send Coeur AK and the crew at the Kensington mine a huge shout out for financially helping to make our pathway to certification a possibility!

Each year, thousands of visitors respond positively to the Juneau community and its overwhelming beauty. Renewable Juneau hopes that the pioneering and proactive local climate action taken by Above and Beyond Alaska can be adopted as a Juneau visitor industry standard. The visitor cost is trivial, its impact is life-changing.

Leave a Reply