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Country delegations heading to New York for this Friday’s signing of the Paris Climate Change Agreement will be traveling climate neutral.

The travel emissions from the more than 197 delegations, including Heads of State, will be tallied and an equivalent volume of Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) credits will be cancelled.

The New York event is being convened by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is rallying the UN to “walk the talk” when it comes to climate change action. Last year’s Climate Summit also used CERs to compensate for emissions.

The CERs will be sourced from the Adaptation Fund, set up to fund projects that help developing countries cope with the inevitable effects of climate change. So, in addition to compensating for the delegates’ travel, purchase and cancellation of the credits will help fund projects on the ground.

Under the Paris Agreement, adopted by more than 190 countries in December, nations have agreed to bring down emissions so low that in the second half of this century what pollution remains in the atmosphere can be safely and easily absorbed by natural systems such as forests.

“Reaching climate neutrality by mid-century will require a serious and significant effort to de-carbonize the global economy, based on a systemic shift to ever cleaner energy, rising levels of energy efficiency and far more sustainable management of all forms of natural resources,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). “Everyone can help speed up and scale up this shift by offsetting the emissions they are at present unable to reduce.”   

CERs, each equivalent to one tonne carbon dioxide, are awarded to emission reduction projects registered under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) – everything from clean cookstove projects, to wind energy, to tree planting. The incentive created by the CDM has led to the registration of some 8,000 emission-reduction projects and programmes in more than 105 developing countries. A share of all the CERs issued goes into the Adaptation Fund, sold and the money used to fund projects.

Example of a CDM project

Other events are also making use of CERs to compensate for emissions, including the High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, convened by the President of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly on 21 April in New York.

Offsetting is easy, and can be done online. The UNFCCC secretariat, through its Climate Neutral Now campaign, encourages companies, organizations, events and even individuals to measure their emissions, reduce what they can and offset the rest using CERs.

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