Press Releases February 2005 - Climate Friendly Civil Society Conference Gives Delegates Guilt-Free Travel - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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Climate Friendly Civil Society Conference Gives Delegates Guilt-Free Travel

UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum 21-25 February

Nairobi, 18 February 2005 - An international gathering of civil society, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will have zero impact on the Earth’s atmosphere because the participants greenhouse gas emissions are being offset by climate-friendly schemes in eastern and southern Africa.

More than 100 delegates from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean are jetting in to attend the two-day Sixth Global Civil Society Forum being held at the headquarters of UNEP.

The pollution from the airliners would have added to the global emissions of carbon coming from cars, factories and homes which are responsible for climate change.

But this time the Forum will be a carbon neutral meeting. UNEP, working with a Swiss organization called ‘myclimate’, is supporting a solar power project in Eritrea and a waste gas-into- electricity scheme in South Africa.

The amount of carbon dioxide saved by UNEP’s backing equals the carbon emissions of the delegates’ travel.

Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said:” Climate change is the biggest threat facing the planet and its people. Governments must act, businesses must act, we all must act to reduce our personal contribution to this looming catastrophe. Off setting emissions from travel, by planting trees or investing in renewable and clean energy projects in developing countries, is a virtuous circle. We play our part in fighting climate change, but also boost forest cover and the supply clean energy. Both of these are needed in developing countries for a healthy environment and for sustainable economic development”.

He said he was particularly delighted that the Forum was addressing its climate footprint in the same week as the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty that requires cuts in developed country emissions, comes into legal force.

“We now have the foundation upon which we can build towards the even bigger, 60 per cent cuts in emissions needed, to really stabilize the atmosphere. I hope organizers of other gatherings and participants to other meetings taking place around the world, look hard and long at making their events carbon neutral too,” said Mr Toepfer.

Renat Heuberger, managing director of Zurich-based Myclimate, said:” The UNEP funds are going towards a project aimed at installing 200 solar collectors for water heating in schools, hospitals and households in Eritrea. The collectors are manufactured locally and local school teachers are being trained in solar heat production thereby contributing to the success of the project”.

“In South Africa, the funds will go towards using methane from a waste water treatment works in Sebokeng Township, 30 km south west of Johannesburg, to generate electricity. Methane is a potent global warming gas but also an excellent fuel. By harvesting the methane, currently lost to the atmosphere, we reducing its global warming impact and replacing electricity generated from a nearby coal-fired power station,” he said.

The Forum, bringing together such diverse bodies as wildlife societies, trades unions, youth councils, women’s groups, sustainable business experts and indigenous peoples’ networks, comes in the run up to UNEP’s Governing Council which runs from 21 to 25 February.

The Forum’s discussions and recommendations will inform delegates to the Governing Council on the role civil society can and is playing in the wider quest for sustainable and environment-friendly development.

One key issue for the Forum is how Non Governmental Organizations can contribute and play their part in reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Other issues include draft decisions before the Governing Council and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. The goals are, in 2005, being subject to a five-year review.

Notes to Editors

Details of the Eritrea and South African projects, myclimate as well as other carbon neutral initiatives at:

UNEP’s work with civil society can be found at http://www.UNEP/dpdl/cso

Details of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum are at

For More Information Please Contact Falt Spokesman/Director UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 20 623292, e-mail or Nick Nuttall, UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 20 623084, Mobile 254 (0) 733 632755, e-mail

UNEP News Release




Further Resources

Global Civil Society Forum Official Site

UNEP Resources for Civil Society

Governing Council Official Site

UNEP & the Millenium Development Goals

Women as the Voice for the Environment

TUNZA Global Youth Retreat

Myclimate and Carbon Neutral Initiatives
Including Information on Eritrea and South African projects

Kyoto Protocol Enters into Force
Press Release


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