Since its launch in February 2008, the UNEP Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) has attracted a growing number of participants dedicated to reducing and eventually eliminating their negative impact on the climate. They include companies, associations, cities, regions, international bodies and even countries.
As governments gather in Copenhagen for the long-awaited UN climate convention meeting, making available the experience of those taking positive action is especially timely.
These case studies convey frank and personal testimony surrounding the challenges, rewards and occasional frustrations involved in pushing the boundaries on climate change.
Overwhelmingly, though, the CN Net participants profiled in these case studies have positive experiences to report and share which should inspire many others to commit to climate neutrality. Certain key messages come through.
First, measuring emissions and identifying ways of reducing them has often led to substantial savings in the costs incurred by companies and public bodies—so it doesn’t cost the Earth to save it.
Second, some participants see the process of going climate neutral as a good way of getting ahead of the game—taking action now before regulations direct markets towards a low carbon future.
Third, offsetting emissions is not just a matter of paying some extra money to help your conscience—in many cases CN
Net participants have identified directly with the particular projects they are supporting through their purchases of carbon credits, and see the benefits to communities and biodiversity that can accompany rising to the climate change challenge.
Finally, the climate neutrality process shows how your impact can extend well beyond the emissions directly created by the activities of your company, city or organization: suppliers making the materials you use, as well as customers using your products or services, all are part of the wider footprint of your activities. Several of these case studies relate examples where influencing those “upstream” and “downstream” impacts is regarded as even more important than the direct emissions of an entity’s core activities.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to being climate neutral. It involves different practices and priorities for different organizations. But the accounts in this volume show that going climate neutral can be an enriching and worthwhile experience, making climate change a real and tangible issue, and a way of translating the political process into real and sustainable action on the ground.
I hope that you will enjoy reading these case studies as much as I have, and that they will inspire more companies, organizations, cities and governments to join the UNEP Climate Neutral Network and start down the path to climate neutrality as one transformative avenue towards a resource- efficient, twenty-first century Green Economy.
Achim Steiner UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director