Peter L’Esperance

Law Student, Dalhousie University

Bachelor of Arts, Economics and Italian Studies, 2013

You have to find ways for people to address the environmental costs of their everyday activities.

When you turn on your lights, drive to the store, or board a plane, Peter L’Esperance would like you to consider this: “Many of our activities have an environmental cost that we don’t necessarily pay for,” he says.

He figures if we did pay for it maybe it would decrease our dependence on carbon fuels and pay for the switch to clean, renewable energy. With that in mind, Peter and fellow King’s grad Melissa Pike (BAH ’12) started the Carbon Consultancy through the Environmental Law Students Society. Both are studying law at Dalhousie.

They set their sights on raising enough money to install solar photovoltaic panels at the Dalhousie Legal Aid Clinic. They’ve raised $28,000 of the solar panels’ $32,500 estimated cost. The solar panels have the potential to prevent the release of more than 72,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions and reduce Clinic energy costs by an estimated $24,000 over the installations’ 30-year lifecycle.

“You have to find ways for people to address the environmental costs of their everyday activities. This is one response to that problem,” he says. “It gives people a way to recognize the carbon emissions of their everyday activities, from using a room to purchasing a cell phone. And then it gives them the option to contribute to renewable energy projects. The idea is you make a contribution to the project proportionate to your own emissions.”

“The idea of providing people with channels to pay for their carbon footprint isn’t unique,” says Peter. But he adds, “the difference with this project is that it is local so all the contributors are going to be able to see the product of their contribution. Also, contributions produce strong social impacts.”

The initiative seeks to promote environmental and social objectives. Peter traces his motivations to engage with these objectives to his experiences and education.

“On the environmental side it comes from being very close to nature my whole life. On the social side you can attribute it to an education in the humanities…I think the Foundation Year Program (FYP) and the reading that you do that traces the development of western thought lets you know that so many people have gone before you. If you are ever navigating difficult times in your life it is a comforting thought.” Peter adds “it makes you feel more connected to everyone, and to ensure that your behavior does more good than harm to everyone else.”

Donations to the Carbon Consultancy, based as Peter said on carbon emissions, have come from a variety of sources, including a Halifax law firms, the Dalhousie Student Union and individuals. Once fundraising for the first renewable energy installation is complete, Peter hopes to take the next step.

“We are going to do our best to create a free standing NGO to continue with the momentum.”

For more information Peter asks that you visit their Facebook page - facebook.com/carbonconsultancy

Posted: Apr. 2016

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