Carbon emissions at Stiftung Mercator

For over ten years, Stiftung Mercator has been providing funding for projects that show ways out of the climate crisis, support science-based communication and offer advice to policymakers, civil society and business. The first step in any credible engagement with the climate crisis is to identify one’s own climate-relevant emissions, to take planned action to reduce them and to offset any emissions that cannot be avoided. Stiftung Mercator has been calculating its own carbon footprint for many years, based on the standards of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.

An in-house working group was set up in 2020 to identify approaches aimed at improving ecological sustainability in the foundation’s business processes and to translate this into an action programme. This included ways to save energy and improve energy efficiency, as well as measures to reduce the use of resources at events, for example.

A core aspect of our work involves fostering exchange between people from different cultures and different locations. We promote cooperation and cultivate international networks. Even in today’s era of digitization, such activities require personal encounters if trust and mutual understanding are to be built up and ideas and knowledge are to be shared. It is not our intention to completely renounce the travel that this entails in future.

A good carbon footprint thanks to the pandemic

Stiftung Mercator’s carbon footprint encompasses our offices, journeys travelled to and from work by public transport or car, and the emissions generated by events and business travel.

In terms of mobility, there is no doubt that 2020 was an exceptional year in the sense that the coronavirus pandemic caused mobility in all areas to be reduced to a minimum in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.

As one would expect, this had a positive impact on Stiftung Mercator’s carbon footprint. In 2020, the carbon emissions (Scope 1­3) generated by Stiftung Mercator amounted to just 386 tons thanks to the business travel, journeys to and from work, events and overnight stays that simply did not happen. Emissions had been around 4.5 times higher in the previous year (1,817 tons).

Offsetting carbon emissions

As in previous years, Stiftung Mercator used climate protection certificates from the Gold Standard to offset its carbon emissions in 2020. The funding goes to a programme that enables Chinese smallholders to build facilities to treat organic waste.

This ensures that methane from animal excrement, a gas that is particularly harmful to the climate, is not released into the environment. The biogas that is generated in the facilities is used locally for cooking. It is also used for heating purposes instead of coal or wood, thereby improving people’s living standards by providing greater comfort and generating less pollution.