COP21 is forecast to generate two-fifths the greenhouse gases of last year’s Lima talks, reveals French presidency
By Alex Pashley
Next month’s UN climate summit plans will have lower greenhouse gas emissions than last year’s record-breaking Lima summit.
The two-week Paris conference is expected to produce 21,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, organisers said in a Monday statement.
That’s the amount China generates in 1 minute 15 seconds, or France generates every 22 and a half minutes.
The total includes the building and dismantling of the main conference centre and a separate pavilion, as well as the jet fuel and local travel for the 22,000 delegates expected to attend.
Carbon-cutting measures include a zero waste policy, a gas-fired boiler (instead of heating oil) and free public transport passes for delegates.
In 2014, the UN’s climate change body drew criticism after its Lima summit was reportedly set to produce over 50,000 tonnes of CO2, relying on diesel-powered generators to power the purpose-built venue. The host government offset that pollution with carbon credits from Peruvian forest projects.
How do other COPs compare?
Copenhagen, 2009: 33,536 participants with total emissions of 26,000 tCO2e. All emissions were offset by the host government through projects selected by host government.
Durban, 2011: 14,123 participants with total emissions of 25,000 tCO2e. Emissions that were generated by travel of all registered participants were offset by the host government, representing 75% of the COP’s emissions.
Doha, 2012: 10,529 participants with total emissions of 12,000 tCO2e. Emissions that were generated by travel of all registered participants were offset by the host government, representing 75% of the COP’s emissions.
Lima, 2014: 13,067 participants. All emissions (travel of registered participants, conference facilities and local activities) were offset by the host government.
France will follow suit and buy carbon credits from the UN’s clean development mechanism. The UN’s climate change body will neutralise its emissions from travel also.
Independent consultants ECOACT will count the total carbon footprint after the event ends.
“The French government will offset all emissions from travel of registered participants, as well as those from the conference facilities and local operations, through CERs (certified emissions reductions) from projects under the clean development mechanism (CDM).
“The carbon neutrality of the COP should be completed by March 2016.”
The UN is encouraging other attendees to offset their emissions through a voluntary payment service Climate Neutral Now.
France will only cover the local transport of 18,000 extra participants including journalists, observers and technical staff at Le Bourget site and the Espaces Générations Climat pavilion.
Cash from offset flights can be spent on green projects in the developing world such as financing biomass plants or stopping methane leakage at coal mines.
A round trip in economy class from New York to Paris uses up 2 tonnes, according to calculations by MyClimate, while a flight from Sydney is more than 7t. Credits trade at between US$1-4 a tonne, according to the UN’s website.