Climate change has been one of our themes for over ten years now, and we have been determining our own carbon footprint ever since. We calculate our emissions by analysing our offices, events and travel activities. Our goal is to minimize our greenhouse gas emissions and fully offset any emissions that cannot be avoided. As a foundation, we promote exchange between people of different cultures, foster cooperative ventures and cultivate international networks. These objectives and working methods make it impossible to avoid certain emissions.
As in previous years, we calculated our direct and indirect carbon footprint in three areas: our offices, travel activities and events. In 2019, overall emissions generated by Stiftung Mercator totalled 1,814 tons of carbon dioxide (2018: 1,910 tons). Emissions thus decreased year-on-year. This is thanks in particular to reductions in emissions from our offices and events, whereas those from travel activities were up slightly. The fall in emissions from events and the increase in emissions from travel activities are normal fluctuations. As far as our offices are concerned, however, there was one crucial factor: we had provided incentives for staff to use local public transport to travel to work, and these proved successful. While staff commuting to work drove a total of 300,000 km by car in 2018, this figure had dropped by 50 percent to just 150,000 km in 2019. If events are not factored into the calculations, our emissions fell to 305 tons of carbon dioxide (2018: 309 tons) – their lowest level since we began recording our carbon footprint.
As in previous years, we offset our 2019 carbon footprint by acquiring Gold Standard carbon credits. In so doing, we support the Sichuan Biogas Programme of Activities, which aims to equip the farms of up to one million poor rural households in Sichuan (China) with efficient bio-digesters and cookers. The clean biogas that is obtained from the widespread sewage pits is used for cooking instead of coal and wood, achieving greenhouse gas reductions totalling approx. 20 million tons of carbon equivalent over the entire duration of the programme. We base our carbon footprint calculations on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an internationally recognized standard for determining greenhouse gas emissions.