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The benefits of supporting climate projects

12 / 2016

The case for voluntary carbon offsetting

 

 

1. Developed & developing countries

 

Following the COP21 in Paris & COP22 in Marrakesh more and more developed countries will make important CO2 emission reductions to make their contribution in the fight against climate disruption by trying to remain at least under a global warming of 2°C compared to 1990.

 

In developing countries, mainly Africa & some regions in Asia one can observe impressive population growths leading to a sharp increase in energy demand. Since 3 of the 7 billion people on this planet still rely on wood and charcoal to cook their daily meals (and boiling water) we can imagine the consequences for forests and related CO2 emissions if they all keep burning wood to sustain their families.

 

This is why next to local climate efforts in developed countries we also need to help developing countries in making the urgent transition through energy efficiency & renewable energies. 

 

2. The cost to reduce 1 ton of CO2

 

In developed countries, as we are already quite energy efficient, the cost per ton of CO2 reduction is much higher than the cost to reduce one ton of CO2 in Africa. As there is a serious climate urgency it makes sense to use $1000 to reduce 100 tonnes of CO2 in Africa rather than 1 ton in an energy efficient EU country. We are all living in the same atmosphere…

 

3. Global economy & responsibility

Most organisations have a global impact, whether we like it or not, the CO2 emissions that cannot be reduced over here still have a global climate impact. Somewhere in Haiti or on the Solomon Islands people are suffering right now due to climate disruption. Whether we emit CO2 in Brussels, Paris, New York, London,… it is emitted into the same atmosphere with the climate consequences we know but with devastating impacts in more climate sensitive areas. One return flight between Brussels & New York has a cost to Society of approximately $220. Some organisations emit 1.000.000 tonnes of CO2 and have therefore a cost to Society of  $86.000.000… who will pay for this? Even though this organisation invests in energy efficiency & local pollution reducing activities they still have a huge global climate impact. So it is not enough to reduce your local energy consumption (and energy-bill). One has to take responsibility for its global climate impact. Supporting global climate projects through certified voluntary carbon offsetting allows people to tackle their climate responsibility.

 

4. Voluntary action

Voluntary climate projects are not to be confused with the mandatory CO2 emissions trading schemes. For non EU ETS organisations there is no obligation to address or take responsibility for the climate impact. None of them have to pay for emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere but Society and future generations will have to bear the costs of climate disruption. This is a certainty.

 

At CO2logic we invite organisations to calculate, reduce and offset their CO2 emissions & climate impact. Again, there is no obligation to act on climate but there is a rising amount of organisations that realise the important benefits of serious climate actions.

 

Calculating & reducing emissions are usually achieved through behavioural changes, energy efficiency or the implementation of renewable energy. They make economic sense and end up saving sometimes high amounts of money. It also improves the image of an organisation and motivates people as they work for an organisation that shares common values with its employees, they even tend to become ambassadors…

 

More and more organisations have a CSR-vision & strategy but few can submit precise and reliable figures about their real climate impact. This is why CO2logic created the “CO2-NEUTRAL” label, to allow people to recognise real measurable climate actions including taking responsibility for the remaining CO2 emissions.

 

An increasing amount of organisations signed the UN Sustainable Development Goals charter. This demonstrates a growing consciousness for global responsibility and impacts. But few make the link between their CO2 emissions, climate and the negative impact it has on SDGs for people in developing countries. If one is a signatory of the UN SDGs then it would be totally incoherent if that organisation does not take its responsibility for its remaining climate impact.

 

5. Certification & guarantees

If you just want to plant trees for the beauty of it, please go out and do it. It is good for air quality & biodiversity. If you want to take your responsibility for your remaining climate impact of i.e. 1000 tonnes of CO2 by reducing somewhere else 1000 tCO2 to claim CO2-NEUTRALITY then you should read this. Voluntarily supporting climate projects for measureable climate impact reductions is about matching your impact with a reduction that would not happen without your support, especially if you want to do it in a credible way. You have no obligation to do this but you want to do it because it is in line with your values, or because your clients ask what you do to reduce your climate impact? It is therefore important to choose climate projects that are certified or verified by the most robust CO2 offsetting standards such as Gold Standard, VCS, UNFCCC, Plan Vivo,… You don’t want to take any reputational risks since you do it voluntarily. A good certification mechanism guarantees real CO2 reductions, transparency & traceability. Each ton of CO2 reduction, Verified Emission Reduction (VER), can only be used once as it will be cancelled to make the offsetting of your climate impact reality.

 

You would not buy a low energy house from an owner just on the basis that the owner says it is low energy, right? You will only believe it if there is an independent energy performance certificate that proves it… The same should be the case for CO2 offsetting.

 

6. Climate urgency

The longer we wait to act on climate the more intense climate disruption will be and the more expensive it will be to reverse the trend. This is why CO2 offsetting has a complementary role in supporting as many CO2 reductions in developing countries as possible. The faster we address climate change the lower the costs to Society. So do not wait another 10 years until a new technology comes up to reduce your remaining climate impact… You can support the urgent energy transition anywhere in the world where it is most necessary.

 

7. Co-Benefits

When you support a climate project the measurable outcome is a ton of reduced carbon dioxide. To achieve this reduction of CO2 some climate impacting habits will be improved or altered. Take for example the switch from an open fire to an efficient cookstove to cook family meals in Africa. Well, next to taking out of the atmosphere i.e. 1,6 tonnes of CO2, it has also allowed the family to be less exposed to toxic fumes, burn less wood, reduce deforestation, protecting the habitat of wildlife, create jobs through cookstove production, save money on the purchase of wood or charcoal, more time for taking care of children rather than looking for wood,  etc. It is estimated that each ton of CO2 reduced through a Gold Standard certified climate project creates about $150 USD of co-benefits* for the local population. (*Study by Imperial College London)

 

Therefore climate projects are much more than only CO2 reductions, many United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are addresses for each developed climate project.

 

8. Increasing volumes & positive impacts

Just a drop in the ocean…? Maybe, but drops make rivers and rivers make oceans. If everybody would offset its climate impact then we could further multiply climate projects around the world. CO2logic is not alone. In each country there is a least one other CO2logic. All together we believe we can make a change. More and more organisations are joining our climate projects and the results are there, increasing local and global CO2 reductions while contributing actively in addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

 

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