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Carbon Offsetting Initiative
-Briefing for the participants-

Offsetting your flight emissions
Climate change is one of the most challenging issues in our globalized world. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the responsibility of all of us. Scientists agree that no more than 1.5 tons of CO2 per person should be emitted yearly to guarantee a stable climate; this yearly total is emitted on a one-way flight from New York to Nairobi.1 However, a complete reduction in emissions is not always possible, and this is where the concept of carbon offsetting comes in.
The idea is to pay a surcharge on air travel equal to the amount of CO2 emitted and to invest these funds in carbon reduction projects, including renewable energy in developing countries. This concept of combining the mitigation of climate change with the promotion of renewable energy for development directly reflects UNEP’ s mission of “environment for development”. By using an existing program (for example, myclimate.org or atmosfair.org) to make flights 'carbon-neutral', the administrative and financial efforts are minimized. Carbon calculators provide a useful reference point for calculating the distance traveled, the associated carbon dioxide emissions, and the cost of offsetting these emissions.
Meeting participants are encouraged to consider offsetting their flight emissions, using the mechanism of their choice.  UNEP will also offer a carbon offsetting kiosk at the meeting itself for those interested, as described below.

…With Step-by-Step
Step By Step LogoThe Step-by-Step (SBS) team is a group of UN staff members engaging in the implementation of an environmental policy on the UN compound in Nairobi. As our name indicates, by initiating small changes we try to improve the environmental housekeeping on the UN complex. During the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 12) in November 2006, the SBS group launched this carbon offsetting initiative. An information booth raised awareness on the subject of carbon offsetting among participants, alerting them of the amount and cost of emissions produced by their travel to Nairobi.  Based on the monetary 'carbon cost', participants made voluntary contributions to offset their emissions through an investment for a bio-latrine in a Nairobi community.

 

…By investing into
The money collected from these donations will be used to finance a bio-latrine for use by a school in a Nairobi slum community.

A Bio-latrine in a Nairobi slum area
The bio-latrine project is a simple and sustainable initiative combining the following benefits:

  1. Energy generation and environmental protection: The generation of biogas from human waste for cooking reduces the consumption of traditional energy sources (i.e. biomass) and contributes actively to the protection of the highly depleted forest areas around Nairobi. The saved fuel wood expenses can be reinvested in educational activities and supplies for the school.

  2. Offset emissions:Preliminary calculations show that 500 latrine users generate around 12.5 m³ of gas per day. If this gas is used to replace charcoal for cooking, then the approximate potential emission reductions over the estimated 20-year lifecycle of the latrine are 201 tons.

  3. Byproducts: The natural fertilizer, which is a byproduct of the biolatrine, may be used to build an indigenous tree nursery at the school to provide the surrounding community with indigenous tree seedlings throughout the year. A school garden could produce local fruits and vegetables, thus ensuring a more balanced diet for the children.

  4. Waste management: Regular unhygienic pit-latrines on the school compound will be replaced by hygienic bio-latrines, thus addressing daily sanitation problems faced in slum areas. Utilization of human waste reduces pollution of watersheds within the vicinity and thus improves the overall water quality and health of residents.

Potential schools are:

  1. Riverside Primary School in Kangemi  - 1,200 children

  2. Jehovah Jireh Primary School in Maili Saba, near Dandora - 800 children

Further Information
For more information on the Step-by-Step team and the carbon offsetting initiative please contact stepbystep@unep.org. If you wish to make a donation, please come to the carbon neutral booth at the meeting.


1 Comparison taken from a background document by myclimate, available at www.unep.org/civil_society/GCSF/ carbon-initiative.asp.

© UNEP