Are You Going Neutral on Global Warming?-13 Countries, Cities and Companies Say Yes!
10th Special Session of the Governing Council/
Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Monaco/Nairobi, 21 February 2008-Four countries, four cities and five corporations have become the pioneering founders of a bold new initiative to address climate change and the urgent need to de-carbonize the global economy.
The participants are the first to join the Climate Neutral Network (CN Net), launched today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in cooperation with the UN's Environment Management Group, as one inspiring solution to the challenge of rising greenhouse gases.
The Network, a web-based project, is seeking to federate the small but growing wave of nations, local authorities and companies who are pledging to significantly reduce emissions en route to zero emission economies, communities and businesses.
Over the coming months, intergovernmental bodies, organizations, civil society groups and eventually individuals will be invited to take part.
The aim is a truly global information exchange network open to all sectors of society from Presidents, Prime Ministers and Princes to people from Pittsburgh and Sao Paulo to Poznan and Apia.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said today: "Climate neutrality is an idea whose time has come, driven by the urgent need to address climate change but also the abundant economic opportunities emerging for those willing to embrace a transition to a Green Economy".
"This new initiative supports the formal negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here governments need to navigate the Bali Road Map to a successful conclusion in Copenhagen in 2009. The CN Net can assist in building confidence through demonstrable action at the national and local level on the art of the possible," he said.
"The CN Net is also in for the long haul and equally aimed at mobilizing a broad-based response demonstrating that a transition to a low, even zero carbon future, can be a reality if inspiring and practical actions can be federated around the world," said Mr Steiner.
The first four countries to partner are Costa Rica, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway. They, along with the initial cities and companies, represent a diversity of challenges and opportunities which have the potential to be replicated by others in whole or in part.
"For Norway it is emissions from oil and gas that dominate whereas for New Zealand, agriculture represents 50 per cent of its current greenhouse gases," said Mr Steiner.
"Iceland's central challenge is perhaps transport and industry including fishing and fish processing. I am especially delighted that Costa Rica is at the forefront of the initiative. Its commitment demonstrates that the economic benefits of reducing dependency on fossil fuels and action on deforestation and degradation are of central interest to developing and developed countries alike," he said.
Costa Rica aims to be climate neutral by 2021 when it celebrates 200 years of independence.
The strategy will build on Costa Rica's decision to tax fossil fuels in 1996 with 3.5 per cent of the money raised allocated to the National Forestry Financing Fund.
These are part of a 'payment for environmental services' programme that pays landowners who manage forests for their carbon sequestration and storage alongside management for water production, biodiversity and scenic beauty.
In 2007 Costa Rica planted more than five million trees or 1.25 per person making it the highest per capita planting in the world. Various industries are supporting the initiative including a C-neutral plan by Costa Rica's banana sector.
Other elements of the strategy include increasing the percentage of renewable energy generation to well over 90 per cent and action on energy efficiency including energy saving appliances.
Iceland has drawn up a plan to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by up to 75 per cent by 2050. The country's electricity production is already among the greenest on the globe.
Currently 99 per cent of electricity generation and 75 per cent of total energy production is coming from geothermal and hydro-power. Iceland's biggest challenge comes from transport including vehicles and its fishing fleet whose emissions have risen since 1990.
The country is planning to extend discount fees to people buying environmentally-friendly vehicles such as ones powered by methane, hydrogen, electricity or hybrid technology.
Iceland is also looking to equip the country's fishing fleet with eco-friendly fuel systems including fuel cells. Progress is also under way to substitute ammonia for HCFCs ? an ozone damaging and greenhouse gas ? in the fleet's refrigeration equipment.
Tapping methane from landfills and better management and restoration of soils, wetlands and forests in order to 'sequestrate' carbon from the air and minimize releases from the land are also part of Iceland's strategy.
New Zealand is aspiring to climate neutrality through a wide range of domestic initiatives including a trading scheme covering all sectors of the economy and all six greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol.
The country has set itself the target of generating 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and halving per capita transport emissions by 2040 by introducing electric cars and a requirement to use bio fuels.
Meanwhile six government agencies will be aiming to achieve full neutrality by 2012. Where emissions cannot be cut they will be offset through forest regeneration projects on tribal lands.
New Zealand, which will host World Environment Day 2008 under the theme 'Kick the C02 Habit", is paying particular attention to emissions from agriculture. Some 40,000 farms account for 50 per cent of the country's greenhouse gases versus around 12 per cent from agriculture in most developed countries.
Norway aims to become climate neutral by 2030, advancing by around 20 years a previously announced deadline.
The country has embarked on a vigorous energy efficiency and energy savings policy and is perfecting carbon capture and storage at its offshore oil fields.
Norway recently joined the European Emissions Trading Scheme and has approved over $730 million to invest in offsets via the Kyoto Protocol's Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism.
It has announced plans to invest $2.7 billion in Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation-global greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation are estimated to be around 20 per cent of the total from all sources.
During the period 2008-2012, Norway estimates that it will over-fulfill its Kyoto Protocol commitments by five million tonnes.
Four cities are also today announcing they have joined the CN Net. They are Arendal, Norway; Rizhao, China; Vancouver, Canada and Växjö, Sweden.
Arendal took a decision on climate neutrality in 2007. It is currently assessing its greenhouse gas footprint and will have a final estimate in May 2008. The city's initial target is stabilization in 2012 and a 25 per cent emission reduction by 2025.
City-wide action, including energy efficiency measures in buildings, will be supplemented by the purchasing of carbon offsets via a scheme run by the Norwegian State Pollution Control body. This may commence as early as this year.
Rizhao is implementing a transition to a low carbon society via a variety of innovative measures including boosting solar power in homes and schools up to harvesting methane as a fuel from industrial waste-water.
Close to 100 per cent of urban housing now has solar heaters and 30 per cent of rural homes. Compared to 2000, the amount of energy used per unit of GDP has fallen by almost a third and C02 emissions by almost half.
Vancouver has adopted targets to reduce community greenhouse gas emissions to 33% below current levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In addition, Vancouver adopted the target of greenhouse gas neutral buildings for all new construction by 2030.
The city has also set a target of being carbon neutral in its own civic operations by 2012 by retro-fitting public buildings to save energy, adopting more efficient vehicles, including those powered by alternative fuels, and capturing methane gas from its landfill and converting the energy to heat and electricity .
Växjö has decided to become a 'Fossil Fuel Free" City.
In 1996, there was a unanimous political decision to reduce CO2 emissions per inhabitant by at least 50% by the year 2010, compared to 1993. In 2006, the reduction was 30%. For the year 2025, the goal is 70% and the long term goal is of course to stop using fossil fuels. Today, over 50% of the city's energy supply comes from renewables.
Five companies have become the first to join the CN Net. They are Co-Operative Financial Services, UK; Interface Inc, United States; Natura, Brazil; Nedbank, South Africa and Senoko Power, Singapore.
Co-operative Financial Services's (CFS) 25-storey headquarters in the North of England is the largest solar installation in the UK with 7,000 photovoltaic panels. In addition, 99 per cent of the CFS's electricity is sourced from 'good quality' renewable energy supplies.
The company has also developed a range of innovative products for customers including car insurance and mortgages that include offsets covering a fifth of a vehicle and a household's emissions.
Interface Inc, a commercial interiors company, has committed to climate neutrality by 2020 under the Clinton Global Initiative. Employee and company travel is offset through several schemes including Cool C02mmute and Trees for Travel.
Seven of its manufacturing facilities are run using renewable energy including its LaGrange plant in Georgia that is fueled by methane from a landfill site. The company is committed to greening its supply chain and offers a range of climate neutral products including Cool Carpet.
Natura, a Brazilian multinational cosmetics company, has pinpointed potential emissions savings of 33 per cent from its business supply chain. The company has committed to replace petroleum-based products in its cosmetic in favour of natural minerals and plant materials.
As early as 1997, Natura converted its distribution fleet in the greater Sao Paulo area to natural gas. Emissions that cannot be cut will be offset via native species forestry projects and renewable energy.
Nedbank is working to reduce its own emissions and those of its 24,000 employees through a range of initiatives including public awareness schemes for environmentally-friendly living.
The company is a signatory to South Africa's Energy Efficiency Accord; is the only African bank to have signed up to the Equator Principles and is a leading member of the Carbon Disclosure Project that encourages companies to disclose their carbon footprint as a stepping stone to greater emissions reductions.
Senoko Power is Singapore's largest power company. In 1998, over 80 per cent of its power plants were powered by fuel oil or diesel. Today over 90 per cent of electricity is generated by natural gas and since 1990 the 'carbon intensity' has fallen by close to 40 per cent.
Part of its Corporate Social Responsibility strategy includes building climate awareness in the community including in schools and via a National Weather Study Project. Senoko is the first power company in Singapore to meet the environmental standard ISO 14001.
Quotes from some of the CN Net's founding partners
Roberto Dobles, Environment and Energy Minister, Costa Rica
"Costa Rica seeks to be climate neutral in 2021, unilaterally, because even though our emissions are small, we believe there is a common yet differentiated responsibility. The successful economies of the future will be those that are decarbonized and climate friendly.
"Costa Rica is developing the National Strategy on Climate Change to act responsibly with present and future generations, in a view to reduce emissions and adapt our country to climate change. Costa Rica is developing a National Strategy on Climate Change to generate new competitive capabilities in a global environment heavily impacted by climate change.
The country is beginning to share the vision that a climate neutral economy is also a competitive one, since costs can be reduced and climate quality factors added."
Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir, Environment Minister, Iceland
"Climate change can have dire consequences for a large part of humanity in the coming decades. We must, however, be able to frame the challenge in a positive way, and to see it as a task of doing things in a better way, a cleaner way.
Iceland has effectively de-carbonized its energy production sector, and hopes to do the same in the coming decades with other sectors of the economy. UNEP's Climate Neutral Network initiative allows countries to illustrate best examples in various fields, and to stake out an ambitious profile in climate affairs. Who stays ahead in this friendly race towards carbon neutrality is not most important; if we all manage to beef up our efforts the real winners will be the future inhabitants of Planet Earth."
David Parker, Minister for Climate Change, New Zealand
"The development of the Climate Neutral Network signifies a major step forward in creating a coordinated global response to climate change. I am proud that New Zealand is a founding member of the Climate Neutral Network. As a signatory we are leading the way in actively laying out strategies to become carbon neutral.
The creation of the network recognizes that global economic growth and well-being sit alongside a clean and healthy environment. It also recognizes that climate change is an issue of the highest concern to the United Nations."
Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development, Norway
"The Climate Neutral Network will be an important contribution to the development and promotion of carbon neutral economies. It will facilitate the role of marked-based solutions and economic regulatory measures to combat climate change."
Torill Rollstad Larsen, Mayor of Arendal
"The UN city of Arendal is paying strong attention to the threats from Climate Change and trying to live up to the notion 'think globally and act locally'. We are currently embarking on an ambitious program to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from Arendal's own activities drastically by 2012. We will further become climate neutral from 2008 by offsetting remaining emissions. We also work with major events in the city like the Hove rock festival, the World Speed Boating Championship and the Canal Street jazz festival to be climate neutral this year. We very much look forward to sharing ideas and experience with other colleagues in UNEP's Climate Neutral Network."
Sam Sullivan, Mayor of Vancouver
"The City of Vancouver is proud to be recognized by the Climate Neutral Network as a world leader acting to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Along with our focus on EcoDensity and making Vancouver green, livable and affordable, we follow approaches where we can have the greatest impact: improving our own operations, following integrated and sustainable land-use and transportation planning, encouraging renewable district energy systems, and requiring the highest standards of energy performance from buildings."
Anders Franzén, Development manager, Växjö
"In Växjö, Sweden we took an early responsibility to become climate neutral by a decision 1996 to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions that make us a fossil fuel free city. By different measures we have reached a considerable reduction and are now emitting less than world average. We like to share our program, vision and experience world wide. One good way can be through the Climate Neutral Network."
David Anderson, Chief Executive of CFS
"By using green energy, pursuing energy efficiency and offsetting all our remaining CO 2 emissions we are doing everything to reduce our impact on the environment. However, we cannot ignore the legacy we have left over the years. That is why we are going beyond carbon neutral and offsetting 110% of our emissions each year."
Daniel T. Hendrix, Chief Executive Officer, Interface, Inc.
"Interface is excited to join UNEP's Climate Neutral Network and share ideas and strategies on achieving climate neutrality. It will take the collaborative work of many to solve global climate change problems and we want to do everything we can to inspire and enable others to join us in our mission to be a climate neutral enterprise."
Eduardo Luppi, Vice-President for Innovation, Natura
"To Natura, initiatives like the Climate Neutral Network are essential to stimulate the exchange of ideas in a way that countries and companies commit themselves more and more to the neutralization and, mainly, the reduction of greenhouse gases. Participation in this network is very important for Natura to share experiences on its Carbon Neutral Program and to exchange best practices on environmental issues".
Selby Baqwa, Group Executive for Governance, Compliance and Sustainability, Nedbank Group
"Having worked with both UNEP and the UN Global Compact over the last few years, we strongly support the collaborative approach to dealing with one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, that of climate change, and look forward to working with the Climate Neutral Network.
Nedbank is committed to a variety of energy efficiency projects, supporting clean energy and creating awareness around how to minimize the individual effect on global warming of each of our staff members and clients through their carbon footprints".
Roy Adair, President & CEO of Senoko Power Ltd
"UNEP's launch of the climate neutral network is an excellent step to raise public awareness on climate change mitigation. Through this platform, the public, organizations, and people sectors will be able to share solutions and strategies to combat climate change. As a power generation company, we at Senoko Power are honored to be a part of this global initiative.
In Singapore, we are committed to minimizing our impact on the environment. We have significantly reduced our carbon intensity by as much as 40% compared to 1990s by adopting the latest energy-efficient combined cycle plant technology, while also shifting fuel consumption to mostly natural gas.
In addition, we have committed more than S$1.8 million (US$ 1.25 million) for the sponsorship of the National Weather Study Project (NWSP) between 2005 and 2007. The NWSP was launched to raise awareness on climate change among students from 240 schools and junior colleges in Singapore.
Through these initiatives, we continue to serve as an agent of change not only for the power generation industry but also for the public".
Notes to Editors
The aims and objectives of the Climate Neutral Network, the pledges and strategies of the participants and details on how to join are at www.unep.org/climateneutral
The 10th Special Session of UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum will take place between 20 and 22 February in Monaco. www.unep.org/gc/gcss-x/
The theme is Globalization and the Environment-Mobilizing Finance to Meet the Climate Challenge.
Host Country web site is at http://www.unep2008.gouv.mc/pnue/wwwnew.nsf/HomeGb
UNEP resources on climate change are at www.unep.org/themes/climatechange/
UN Environment Management Group is at www.unemg.org
World Environment Day 2008 www.unep.org/wed/2008/english/
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