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These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

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To see updated information about the final measurement, reduction and offset of the carbon footprint of the Paris climate conference, please click here.

Will the carbon footprint of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) be calculated? Does this include travel?

The UNFCCC secretariat has increasingly made such estimates over recent years for each conference and with increasing precision. We have not yet estimated the carbon footprint of the COP21 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, but we will in due course.

Please note that our calculations only cover delegates and participants actually at the official UN climate conference. This will only cover attendees in Le Bourget for COP21, which amounts to roughly 22,000 people.

People coming to cultural events and other activities in the wider Paris area are not covered by our calculations as these visitors fall outside both our responsibility and the responsibility of the Government of France as hosts.

When it comes to the carbon footprint of UN climate conferences, here are some numbers:

COP13 in Bali:

  • All emissions (travel of registered participants, conference facilities and local activities) offset by the UNFCCC    
  • Offsetting was done through the purchase and cancellation of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) through the Adaptation Fund

COP15 in Copenhagen:

  • 33,536 participants
  • Total emissions of 26,276.41 tCO2e
  • All emissions (travel of registered participants, conference facilities and local activities) were offset by the host government
  • Offsetting was done through projects selected by the host government

COP17 in Durban:

  • 14,123 participants
  • Total emissions of 25,048.15 tCO2e
  • Emissions that were generated by travel of all registered participants were offset by the host government, representing 75% of the COP’s emissions
  • Offsetting was done through projects selected by the host government

COP18 in Doha:

  • 10,529 participants
  • Total emissions of 11,538.30 tCO2e
  • Emissions that were generated by travel of all registered participants were offset by the host government, representing 75% of the COP’s emissions
  • Offsetting was done through the purchase and cancellation of Adaptation Fund CERs

COP20 in Lima:

  • 13,067 participants
  • All emissions (travel of registered participants, conference facilities and local activities) were offset by the host government
  • Offsetting was done through projects selected by the host government

This shows that over recent years, we have assisted and worked with many host governments to offset the emissions of all other official delegates and any remaining emissions from a UN climate conference after the host government has put in their measures such as recycling, using renewable energy and installing energy saving measures.

Will the emissions of COP21 be offset?

The French government is working hard to reduce the emissions from COP21.

An exhaustive Sustainability Strategy Plan has been put in place by the French government with a goal to make the COP ISO 20121 compliant.

Various actions have been taken to reduce COP 21’s emissions from the source. These include:

  • hybrid shuttles between the RER station at Le Bourget or line 7 (Fort Aubervilliers) and the conference site;
  • distribution of 20 000 Navigo passes to registered participants;
  • a gas fired boiler instead of an heating oil boiler (-20% in terms of CO2);
  • short distribution channels and local sourcing for catering;
  • zero waste and 100% reuse;
  • welcome bags made with recycled clothing;
  • recycled paper and vegetable-based inks

Greenhouse gas emissions produced on the conference site that cannot be reduced from the source will be evaluated. A consulting firm, ECOACT, has been selected in January 2015 after a call for tender.

The amount of emissions produced at the Bourget conference site has been provisionally evaluated to be 21,000 tons of CO2 equivalent in September 2015. This estimation covers the 3 phases (assembly starting on 5 October, running the conference and dismantling), the two zones (conference centre and Espaces Générations Climat) and local transport of 40,000 people who are expected to come.

It should also be noted that the UNFCCC secretariat will offset all emissions from staff travel. Some delegations also have a policy to offset their climate footprint. For everybody else, it is voluntary.

As a result, the French government intends to increase efforts to actively encourage all participants not covered by offsets by the government or UNFCCC secretariat to offset their own emissions.

EVERY PARTICIPANT CAN GO CARBON NEUTRAL NOW

This is where the UNFCCC secretariat’s Climate Neutral Now initiative comes in for COP21. It will offer every participant the possibility to offset their footprint, online or onsite at the venue at dedicated Climate Neutral Now kiosks. Participants doing so will get an upgraded badge with a special lanyard.


Who is responsible for offsetting emissions?

The host country agreement stipulates that the host country will make the COP climate neutral by measuring and reducing the carbon footprint. It does not oblige the host country to offset remaining balances, but to encourage registered participants to offset the emissions they are responsible for.

The organization of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) is the responsibility of the host country and the UNFCCC secretariat provides advice to the host government. The secretariat also provides expertise and makes available its tools for measuring, reducing and offsetting emissions.  

In a sense, many host countries choose to reduce the climate footprint of the conference by providing offsets for the emissions associated with travel of all registered participants. It is quite probable that some registered participants had already offset their emissions collectively or individually, but the hosts decided to accept the risk of “double-offsetting” in such cases considering the logistical effort required to determine who has and who hasn’t already taken care of their own footprint.

Since 2012, the UNFCCC secretariat has been offsetting all emissions from travel funded from its own resources, as well as all emissions generated by its own facility operations. That includes all travel of staff and funded participants throughout the year, including those attending the COP. At the COP, the UNFCCC funds approximately 400 participants, which is between 2 and 3 participants per country.

The “measurable” participants (in terms of numbers, itineraries, etc.) are those who are officially nominated and registered to attend the UN conference at the venue. Individuals who travel to the COP location on occasion of the conference but without attending it, e.g., to visit related events organized outside the venue, to lobby or demonstrate, to meet and network, etc., cannot be covered in the calculations.

For more information about the efforts of the French host government to offset emissions, please send an e-mail to: presse@cop21.gouv.fr

For information about the efforts of the UN system to go climate neutral, see Greening the Blue website.

Image at top of article: COP21fr, Instagram

 

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