Staff at the UN climate change convention (UNFCCC) secretariat are supporting an innovative climate neutral campaign – aimed at promoting a long-term vision of a climate neutral world while generating useful funding for vulnerable communities.
The campaign involves staff members and their families using UN-certified carbon credits, so called (CERs), to address personal emissions above and beyond their current efforts to reduce emissions at home and at work.
Starting in July, staff members can offset their remaining greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using CERs produced by emission reduction projects – ranging from clean cookstove projects, to wind energy, to industrial projects – registered under the UNFCCC’s clean development mechanism (CDM).
Staff members will purchase credits from the Adaptation Fund, which is funded by a two per cent levy on all issued CERs. In the past three years, the Adaptation Fund has dedicated USD 226 million to aid climate resilience in nearly 40 countries.
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said: “There are many ways in which we can all contribute to climate action in order to meet the goal of staying under a two degree C temperature
rise. Individuals can and should make wise choices on what they buy, how they get around, what they eat and the kind of energy they use to power their homes. After these efforts, some emissions associated with our daily life still remain. This new campaign offers the opportunity to offset those remaining emissions, moving us towards a low carbon, indeed a climate neutral, life.”
The UNFCCC Secretariat is also looking at ways that will easily allow others, for example individuals, companies, cities, events, and the wider UN system, to calculate their emissions and carry out a simple transaction to offset them to achieve climate neutrality.
Carbon offsetting and climate neutrality
Carbon offsetting is one means for individuals and businesses to take action to combat climate change. It requires first calculating one’s carbon footprint, estimating the volume of emissions one generates from
activities and consumption, such as driving, flying, energy use, food and water consumption. Once this climate footprint is calculated, one can take steps to reduce emissions and offset the rest, to become climate neutral.
Offsetting with CDM carbon credits
There are various ways to offset one’s carbon footprint. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to earn certified emission reductions (CERs), each equivalent to one tonne of avoided CO2. CERs can be traded and sold, and used by industrialized countries to meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects incentivize investment in clean technology in developing countries, helping households and communities improve their wellbeing and health while guiding countries along a low-emitting path to development. CDM projects reduce GHG emissions and contribute to sustainable development in a variety of ways. Projects can, for example, replace the use of fossil fuels with clean renewable energy (wind, hydro, solar, biomass, natural gas); reduce energy consumption and use of fossil fuels through energy efficiency measures (clean cooking stoves, energy efficient light bulbs); or capture already released carbon in trees and other plants (reforestation and forest regeneration projects).