In the countries of the Global South, the poorest sections of the population are already suffering the most from climate change – even though they have contributed the least to its causes. After all, it is the industrialized countries that are responsible for most historical and current emissions.
However, whether we reach the global 1.5 °C target will be determined by the rapid avoidance and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions not only here, but also in the Global South. There, population figures continue to rise sharply. If in the future every household gets a power socket based on coal – as has been and still is the case in the industrialized countries – then hundreds more coal-fired power plants would have to be built. This would further accelerate global warming. And yet, of course everyone has the right to access energy. But emerging and developing countries can leapfrog the coal age and focus on sourcing clean, low-emissions energy.
We can support this transformation and the sourcing of renewable energy. For this to be successful, investment can be promoted via climate change mitigation projects, thus advancing sustainable development at the same time. In this way, commitment to climate protection simultaneously improves the living conditions of local people, promotes sustainable innovations, and protects health and biodiversity. This approach contributes directly to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted in the 2030 Agenda.
With the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, the world set itself the goal of limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial times.
This requires a collective effort that involves not only nation states: companies, organizations, cities and regions, the scientific community and individuals must all play their part to stop global warming.
Climate protection will only be successful in the long term if its implementation is integrated with social, economic and ecological dimensions of sustainability.
The international framework for this is the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It comprises 17 goals – the so-called Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs (see box).
Holistic climate protection strategies aim to make the best possible contribution to achieving the global 1.5 °C target and multiple benefits relating to other sustainability dimensions. The focus is on the rapid, maximum possible avoidance and reduction of one’s own greenhouse gas emissions.
In the context of holistic climate change mitigation strategies, offsetting unavoidable carbon emissions is an important element for effectively advancing climate change mitigation and sustainable development globally, whereby it is always important to begin with efforts to avoid and reduce one’s own carbon emissions as much as possible. In addition, where emissions cannot be avoided, appropriate compensation or offset projects should be financed.
The development-oriented approach of the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance emphasizes the different dimensions of sustainability. The Foundation therefore supports ambitious climate protection strategies which, in addition to a rapid and comprehensive reduction of one’s own greenhouse gas emissions, incorporate high-quality offset projects in the Global South. These are designed to promote positive development impacts in line with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in emerging and developing countries.
The advantage of dovetailing various positive impacts on sustainable development is not only that projects can achieve greater local acceptance and thus long-term effectiveness, but also that they often promote other core benefits that have positive impacts on people and the environment and protect the climate in the long term.
The Paris Climate Agreement has fundamentally changed the framework for implementing offsetting measures. Under the previously applicable Kyoto Protocol, the majority of carbon emission certificates in the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) were generated in developing countries and emerging economies. In addition to lower costs, the implementation of climate protection projects there had the particular advantage that, due to a lack of national climate protection targets in the host countries, there was no risk of any double counting of emission reductions. This was because, under the Kyoto Protocol, only industrialized countries had climate protection targets. This changed with the Paris Climate Agreement, which commits all countries to climate protection and to submitting national climate protection targets that are as ambitious as possible. As a result of this change, every climate protection measure now theoretically contributes to the implementation of the host country’s climate targets. If the offset certificates generated by this measure are now used, for example, to implement a company’s climate protection target, this results in emission reductions being counted twice.
To prevent this, in future carbon emission certificates that are credited towards one’s own emissions balance should feature a so-called ‘Corresponding Adjustment’ with the host country. If the targets of a climate protection strategy are more ambitious than climate neutrality (e.g. the Net-Zero Standard of the Science Based Targets initiative, SBTi), projects that do not involve a Corresponding Adjustment can also be financially supported as private financing contributions to climate protection (so-called ‘Contribution Claims’).
Currently, several standards, such as the Gold Standard, already carry out adjustments to their certifications and registries to reflect these new rules. Furthermore, some project developers have already entered into a dialogue with their projects’ host countries and have concluded bilateral agreements on the introduction of Corresponding Adjustments. The Foundation currently endeavours to shed more light on the possibilities of Contribution Claims and to present attractive alternatives for its supporters in addition to offsetting.
The offset partners listed with the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance can help you at every step on the way to a more climate-friendly world. All you have to do is select the partner who is right for you. We will be glad to assist you with this.
Copyright: photothek.net/Thomas Trutschel, Fokus Zukunft/CO2balance (Projekt: Wasseraufbereitung Sierra Leone, Gold Standard), gettyimages.de/simonlong, FairClimateFund