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Finland to offset air travel emissions during its Presidency of the Council of the EU

Finland will offset emissions from air travel during the Presidency of the Council of the EU. This will be achieved by funding projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and simultaneously advance sustainable development goals. Offsetting flight emissions is a concrete climate action and part of the sustainable meeting arrangements for Finland’s Presidency. The approach is driven by the need to respond to climate change and to draw attention to the climate impact of meetings.

The amount used for offsetting emissions will total approximately EUR 500 000. The Finnish Government decided to direct funds initially earmarked for Presidency gifts to offsetting greenhouse gas emissions instead.

The list of projects was updated in October 2019 to ensure sufficient emission reductions in line with Finland's criteria in offsetting air travel emissions during its Presidency.

Projects will reduce emissions across the world

The four projects that Finland will fund have a measurable effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The projects generate certified emission reduction units (CER units) that adhere to both the Clean Development Mechanism of the UN Convention on Climate Change and Gold Standard.  In addition, they will support the UN’s sustainable development goals and the priorities of Finland’s development policy. The projects will slow climate change and improve the health and welfare of local communities.

More efficient cook stoves emit less smoke

A project in Honduras will support the introduction of more efficient cook stoves. The project will help households and small businesses to shift from traditional firewood stoves to more efficient, less-polluting cook stoves. This will reduce deforestation and improve indoor air quality. Moreover, women and children will no longer be required to collect as much firewood and can focus on education, for example.

The project has distributed more than 160 000 improved cook stoves in Honduras, thereby cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 42 222 tonnes each year. 

South Pole project brochure

CDM registry

Gold Standard registry

Hydropower produces clean energy

A hydropower project in Laos generates clean electricity, reduces emissions and supports the local economy. Using hydropower means there is less need to generate energy by burning fossil fuels.  Consequently, greenhouse gas emissions decrease. The project has created job opportunities for the locals and improved the water supply. In addition, the project developer has built a temple at the request of the residents. 

The project produces 83 000 megawatt hours of clean energy per year and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 46 438 tonnes annually. 

South pole project brochure

CDM registry

Gold Standard registry

Harnessing clean coastal wind to power communities

The Bac Lieu wind farm delivers clean wind electricity to the national power grid. It is the first large-scale coastal wind power project in Vietnam, generating renewable wind energy, mitigating carbon emissions and supporting local development.

The project has created over 100 steady jobs for the operation of the wind farm. It contributes to charity funds, which improve services in surrounding areas and promote regional biodiversity with tree planting activities. It also supports the local community by funding social activities, such as cultural and sporting events. 

The project generates approximately 327,826 MWh of clean electricity on average annually and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 144 000 tonnes annually. 

South pole project brochure

CDM registry

Gold Standard registry

Purifying water with chlorine cuts emissions

A project in Uganda supplies chlorine dispenser systems to be used for disinfecting drinking water. Water no longer needs to be boiled, which reduces logging and time spent on collecting wood and improves indoor air quality as well. Treating water with chlorine kills viruses effectively and stops the spread of water-borne illnesses.  

The project has so far given 300 000 people access to clean drinking water. It has installed 1 150 dispensers and taught communities about the dangers of contaminated water. The project reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 58 000 tonnes annually. 

South pole project brochure

CDM registry

Gold Standard registry

Projects adhere to international quality standards

The emissions will be offset through the purchase and cancellation of so-called Gold Standard certified emission reduction units (CER units) generated by the projects. The units have passed two international quality standards. 

Gold Standard, a scheme established by NGOs, has verified the impact that the projects have on sustainable development. The climate impact of a CER unit has been verified by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol of the UN Convention on Climate Change. 

The CER units can be transparently cancelled in an international or national emissions registry, which prevents the use of the same units more than once.

Air travel emissions will be overcompensated

It is estimated that the air travel during the Presidency will create 18 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Cancelling one CER unit will offset emissions equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide. With the budget reserved for offsetting emissions, Finland will purchase 130 000 Gold Standard CER units.

Because it is difficult to estimate the exact amount of emissions, the emissions will be overcompensated for.

The emissions compensation scheme was prepared by a group of experts that includes representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, the Finnish Environment Institute and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Finland will buy the CER units generated by the projects from South Pole, an internationally known actor in the field.

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