As an industrialized country, Germany has a particular responsibility to play a lead role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to mitigate climate change. For this reason, we are committed to ensuring the success of the energy transition in Germany. Our goal is to reduce the human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases included in the Kyoto Protocol by 40 percent in Germany by 2020, by 55 percent by 2030 and by at least 80 percent by 2050, measured against the 1990 levels. This is a target we also wish to promote through our own activities: our aim is to minimize our greenhouse gas emissions and fully offset any emissions that cannot be avoided. We base our carbon footprint calculations on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, an internationally recognized standard for determining greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2017, total emissions generated by Stiftung Mercator amounted to 890 tons of carbon dioxide (2016: 538 tons). While overall emissions rose considerably year-on-year, we nonetheless achieved our second-lowest carbon footprint since we began recording it, despite the foundation having seen dynamic growth.
A decisive factor in this rise in emissions was the noticeable increase in the number of events we stage. This is partly because we incorporated the Centre for International Programmes into the foundation, and partly because we established new event formats.
If events are not factored into the calculations, we were able to reduce our carbon footprint year-on-year thanks to significantly lower emissions due to staff travel activities.
As in previous years, we offset our 2017 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.