So there’s this small challenge that is on Joseph Pallant’s mind all the time: climate change. Pallant’s job is to figure out how we (as in the Royal We, as in humanity) can take action to lessen climate change by using economic development to prevent greenhouse gases from going into our precious atmosphere. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Joseph Pallant – aka Pepe or Jose to his friends (myself included) – is one of the brightest lights I know. His ability to chat about carbon development mechanisms at a cocktail party and then turn around to cut a serious hole in the dance floor are equally admirable. Pallant and I went attended the University of Victoria at the same time and he was the cool guy who was a residence advisor. Everyone knew Joseph. And now, a whole different set of folks know him, important folks who are leading the charge on taking action to slow climate change.
Pallant is as comfortable chatting with United Nations grand pubahs about how to revolutionize the carbon offset system as he is hopping on a Greyhound to a community forest association meeting and explaining his complex job to an elder. Behold: a dude with social skills, a very large brain and likely one of the most beguiling personalities you’ll meet: Joseph Pallant, Manager, Brinkman Climate of Vancouver, B.C.
Put on a record, your thinking cap and look out the window at something green to put you in the mood for Volume 2 of How did you get that f*#king awesome job?
So how did you get that f*#king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
I make carbon offsets.
Put somewhat more verbosely, I run a business unit of the Brinkman Group called Brinkman Climate. We develop carbon offset projects in British Columbia, and support the development of carbon markets around the world. We use economic tools that value keeping greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere to develop real, on the ground projects that benefit society and the broader environment. I am very fortunate to spend my days refining the tool of carbon offsets, using it to keep greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere, and trying to help businesses, governments and civil society understand the imperative of cap and trade. You can learn a bit more about this work at my old website – carbonprojectsolutions.com and our new one brinkmanclimate.com.
I’ve been working in the carbon market, developing offset projects for 11 years this fall, part of a journey that began long before. My love of nature and the outdoors gained more concrete form as a student of Earthquest in Grade 11, taught by Barry and Moe Reid. I studied Biology and Environmental Studies at University of Victoria, was deeply inspired by my travels to Latin America and went on to do a graduate program in Latin American Management at McRae Institute of International Management. The program had a co-op year, which I wrangled with Brinkman & Associates Reforestation Ltd.. I’d met the co-founder and CEO, Dirk Brinkman previously, and after pitching him at successive performances of his son Baba’s “Rap Canterbury Tales” he relented and said “find yourself some funding, write yourself a job description and you’ve got a job”. I was hired to do the social and environmental programming around Brinkman’s Costa Rican operations, but just before I was going to head down, Brinkman submitted the world’s first Reforestation Methodology to the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. The company asked if I would stay on in rainy New Westminster to develop these new-fangled carbon offsets, and after some grumping, I acquiesced.
I worked with Dirk and his small team for just under two years, developing reforestation projects in Latin America. Took the opportunity to finish my graduate program as an MBA in Paris, came back to Canada and started Carbon Project Solutions. I ran the company for 6 years, “turning action into offset”. There are innumerable smart foresters, engineers and technology holders that can get and keep carbon out of the atmosphere, but very few people who can turn that benefit into a carbon offset that can finance the underlying action. That was my skill. After an amazing, rollercoaster run, I accepted an offer from BC’s Pacific Carbon Trust to come work with them to aggregate offsets for the province’s Carbon Neutral Government. As the Crown Corporation transitioned its mandate into core government, I accepted an offer from my old boss Dirk, to come back and develop a new division of the company which we called Brinkman Climate. I’ve been in the role for just over a year now, and we’ve seen some major successes completing and selling the offsets from a long-term Brinkman project, the Cheakamus Community Forest, in partnership with Ecotrust Canada. We’ve got exciting new projects in the hopper, and amazing dialogue with states and provinces that hope to enact cap and trade in their jurisdiction. I’m thrilled for the work I get to spend my days doing, and for the winds of change at my back.
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
I’m not inclined to think so. If you’re on the right path, is there any potential outcome other than this?
Who or what has been your mentor/inspiration along the way?
My mom for her intelligence, love and encouragement. My Grandad for his love of language and learning. Dirk Brinkman for his commitment, and skill, in building an ecological civilization. My lady Marcy, for being so delightfully her.
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
Always thinkin’bout carbon.
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
Always thinkin’bout carbon.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What is your drink of choice?
Craft-brewed IPA from Cascadia.
Where was the last place you travelled?
Last week was a bit of a road show, and saw me in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Whistler, Kamloops and Clearwater BC. Meetings in each, including speaking to the BC Community Forest Association AGM on a great offset project we’ve done with the Cheakamus Community Forest
What’s on your playlist right now?
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
Salish Sea News & Weather http://salishseanews.blogspot.ca/
Ecosystem Marketplace www.ecosystemmarketplace.com
The Globe and Mail (sigh) www.theglobeandmail.com
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*#king awesome job?
When you find the right one, go for it!
What does the future behold for your f*#king awesome job?
Lots more of the same! Developing projects that get and keep greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere, financing environmental innovation and helping governments enact smart climate policy.
Keep up to Pallant’s work on Brinkman Climate’s FB page.
*I want to insert a HUGE caveat here AND now. I did not come up with this column name, my favourite, now deceased magazine – Readymade – did. It was one of my favourite columns in the DIY mag. I hope to emulate their ethos here (the questions are from my brain with a bit of audience testing from friends/family). As an introvert and general lover of the human race, I am inspired by people who LOVE their jobs. So I thought I would dedicate some space on the world wide web to profiling people who have f*#king awesome jobs: who they are, how they got there and what advice would they give others.*