Tracing and erasing footprints.

AuteurArmitage, Tom

As individuals and companies become more acutely aware of their carbon footprints, they are increasingly turning to a Swiss organisation to analyse and offset those [CO.sub.2] emissions. With a strong focus on standards, myclimate-The Climate Protection Partnership--has won a global reputation as a provider of high-quality carbon offsetting measures. Swiss News talks to myclimate managing director Rene Estermann.

But first, how did we get here? Carbon dioxide or [CO.sub.2]: a colourless, odourless non-flammable gas and the most prominent greenhouse gas in the Earth's atmosphere. Together with other gases such as methane, it is produced naturally and accumulates in the atmosphere, keeping the globe warmer than it might otherwise be.

For decades, some scientists have expressed concern over the rate at which [CO.sub.2] is released through the consumption of fossil fuels. One response to the perceived problem is to offset emissions through projects that neutralise the effects of additional [CO.sub.2] in the atmosphere.

Carbon offsetting is when an organisation such as myclimate calculates the [CO.sub.2] output of everyday activities like driving a car or flying. The organisation then determines the financial equivalent of the emissions and recommends users pay a monetary donation toward a project that reduces carbon emissions by the equivalent amount. To illustrate: A single flight from either Zurich or Geneva to New York would produce over one tonne of carbon dioxide--the equivalent to what an average tree might absorb over its full lifetime.

Carbon offsetting pioneer

From a standing start as a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich in 2002, myclimate racked up a carbon offset volume of SFr 7 million in 2008 and lists a number of international travel companies, the Coca-Cola Company and Green-peace among its clients. It was recently recommended by Tufts University in the United States as one of the four best carbon dioxide offsetting organisations in the world--an endorsement of the organisation's focus on quality.

"myclimate was one of the first movers in this new market in 2002 when we started," myclimate's Estermann told Swiss News. "The focus [was] that myclimate was always strictly on quality and on achieving the best possible standards for the kinds of projects that money was invested in."

All the projects myclimate supports have to meet the Gold Standard criteria developed by the WWF (the Global Conversation...

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