Coral Buitenhuis currently leads Technical Safety BC’s climate action work. She holds a Master’s degree from Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy with a focus on environmental policy and a Bachelor’s degree from University of Victoria with double majors in psychology and environmental studies. Throughout the last decade, Coral has dedicated much of her time to increasing awareness of climate risk, promoting access to wilderness, and supporting environmental stewardship and conservation through her volunteer and professional work with Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Power to Be Adventure Therapy Society, Surfrider Foundation, and Runwild Vancouver. Coral is a passionate outdoorsperson who spends most of her free time skiing, biking, and running in the sea to sky corridor mountains.
I am leading development of a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan at Technical Safety BC. Our goal is for our organisation and our clients to do our part to mitigate the climate crisis, and know of and be prepared for the impacts of climate change.
The plan will contain two main categories of projects: internal and external. Internal projects will focus on steps Technical Safety BC can take to reduce our organisational carbon footprint as well as empower our employees to take climate change adaptation and mitigation steps of their own. For example, this could include education and transitioning to low emission fuel sources for heating and transportation.
Recognising that climate change is a safety risk, external projects will focus on how we can take climate change adaptation and mitigation action throughout the province. For example, we could require that electric panels or elevators are installed with seal level rise and flooding in mind, or partner with other agencies to facilitate installation of high-efficiency boiler combustion units, which are one of BC’s top sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Throughout 2020, we will identify high-impact opportunities through careful research, evaluation, and partnerships. We expect to begin launching projects in 2021.
In early 2019, our 10-year strategy was revised and sustainability was included as an organisational goal. I saw an opportunity for our organisation to begin to take action on climate change by treating climate change as a safety risk and making small changes to the work we’re already doing. Since then, I’ve been focused on building organisational momentum and understanding around the connections between climate change and safety risk. As a result, development of a climate action plan is now a corporate priority for 2021, and the organisation has dedicated resources to this work.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
After experiencing first-hand the impacts of forestry mismanagement while planting trees in BC’s North, I knew I wanted to focus my career on environmental sustainability. In my Bachelor’s degree, I focused my studies on environmental sustainability and psychology, because I understood that in order to address climate change, it is necessary to change human behaviour. I then entered the workforce and realised that true systemic change happens that the policy level, so I pursued a Master’s of public policy with a focus on environmental policy. I’m motivated to protect the mountains, forests, and oceans where I spend nearly all of my spare time.