Launched a year ago with an initial four countries, four cities and five companies, the CN Net today brings together a wide range of participants, including countries big and small, some of the world’s best-known cities, major international companies, UN agencies and leading NGOs.
These first 100 participants – the CN Net Centurion – were honoured at the 25 th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Programme meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “The Climate Neutral Network was born in response to the growing need to federate the many bold and inspiring initiatives being taken the world over to address the global climate change challenge and embrace the opportunity to ‘de-carbonize’ our economies and societies.”
“One year on, the unfolding financial and environmental crises make the CN Net more relevant than ever before as a showcase of both the promise and viability of the low-carbon development model which goes hand-in-hand with the emerging Green Economy initiatives around the globe. I salute the first 100 participants – the CN Net Centurion – on their commitment and hope that CN Net numbers will continue to grow to form many more centurions, or indeed legions, in the years to come.”
“Climate Capital of the World” joins the CN Net
The City of Copenhagen, which will host the crucial UN Climate Change Conference in less than 300 days, is world-renowned for its green politics and eco-friendly life style.
Under the vision of becoming a “climate capital of the world”, Copenhagen has already cut its CO 2 emissions by one-fifth since 1990 and has pledged another 20 per cent cut by 2015. The city also plans to take a “giant leap forward” as part of its Climate Action Plan expected to be endorsed in summer 2009.
Klaus Bondam, Copenhagen’s Mayor for Technics and the Environment, said: “As the mayor of a city that has our common struggle against climate change at heart, I am pleased to see that so many cities around the world have committed themselves to strong CO 2 reduction goals and joined the Climate Neutral Network. Fifty per cent of the world’s population live in cities, and cities worldwide are responsible for 75 per cent of the global CO 2 emissions. Hence, if nations truly want to combat climate change, cities and urban populations are their most important allies in the struggle.”
Copenhagen will also play host to a 100 percent carbon-neutral music and arts festival in September. CO 2PENHAGEN Festival will be run entirely on renewable energy, including two gym bike teams pedalling away to generate power for DJ extravaganza and “piezoelectricity” from dancing crowds stomping their feet on plateaus connected to LED-lighting around the dance floor. The more they dance, the brighter the lights shine.
“The dance floor visualizes the human energy and proves that you can generate energy while having fun,” explain the Festival organizers.
Daejeon , South Korea ’s fifth largest city, is another CN Net Centurion. The city will host a children and youth climate meeting this August ahead of the Copenhagen conference organized by UNEP.
Under the overall vision of a “Low Carbon, Green City”, Daejeon’s climate change response plan focuses on the ten priority tasks, including producing energy from waste and promoting renewables and energy conservation. In the area of transport, the city is promoting cycling, public transport and low-carbon vehicles. The city has also pioneered a “carbon points” scheme, whereby businesses and organizations that reduce emissions get carbon credits from the city authorities.
Opening a regional chapter in CN Net participation
The Norwegian County of Aust-Agder became the first region to join the Climate Neutral Network. The County is a significant business region and the second largest export region in Norway. Norway, which is one of the four founder countries of the CN Net, has the second largest number of participants after New Zealand.
The Aust-Agder County Council took a unanimous decision to become climate neutral in 2009, and has put in place an ambitious action plan, including procuring all electricity from renewable energy sources and achieving 100 per cent climate neutral heating in all new buildings.
The County is also spearheading a regional initiative to develop a public-private partnership with a growing network of private companies in southern Norway, encouraging them to move towards climate neutrality.
The Mayor of the County of Aust-Agder, Mrs Laila Øygarden, said: “The County of Aust-Agder acknowledges the political responsibility to combat climate change, and has committed to climate neutrality from 2009. We are delighted to join the Climate Neutral Network, and hope to inspire and be inspired through sharing valuable knowledge and experience, towards a climate friendly future.”
Growing corporate participation
Several of the world’s largest corporations have joined the ranks of the CN Net, representing diverse sectors from banking to logistics to information and communication technologies (ICT).
Microsoft is the latest CN Net participant in the ITC sector, an industry which accounts for 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The corporation believes that there are significant opportunities to considerably increase the energy efficiency of computing, and even more significant opportunities to use ICT solutions to reduce the 98 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors through the services it provides.
For example, Windows Vista was developed as Microsoft’s most energy efficient operating system to date, which, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, could help eliminate 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually in the United States alone.
“Microsoft recognizes that climate change is a serious challenge that requires a comprehensive and global response from all sectors of society. We are committed to reducing the impact of our own operations and products and to providing software and technology innovations that help people and organizations around the world improve the environment, particularly the pressing issue of climate change,” says Steve Lippman, Director, Environmental Engagement Strategy, Microsoft Corporation
With 80,456 employees in 72 countries, Deutsche Bank is the largest global financial institution to come on board the CN Net, with a pledge to neutralize its carbon footprint by 2012. The Bank considers achieving carbon neutrality as an essential building block of its overall climate change strategy and has recently established a high-level Climate Change Advisory Board to implement the strategy.
Hanns Michael Hoelz, Group Sustainability Officer of Deutsche Bank, explains that the Bank plans to reduce its carbon emissions through improving energy efficiency of its buildings and technology infrastructure, greater use of renewable energy as well as offsetting any remaining CO 2 emissions. At the Bank’s head office in Frankfurt, for instance, which is currently being converted into one of the most environmentally-friendly office towers in Europe, carbon emissions will be cut by more than 50 per cent.
With some 500,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories, Deutsche Post World Net – which is the parent company of DHL – is one of the biggest employers in the world and the first CN Net participant representing the global logistics industry.
In 2008 Deutsche Post World Net launched its climate protection programme -- GoGreen -- to respond to climate change and, in doing so, became the first major company in the goods transportation industry to set quantifiable climate protection targets. The group’s target is to improve CO 2 efficiency across all of its operations – including subcontracted transportation services – by 30 percent by 2020.
“With our GoGreen programme we are focusing on doing our part to address climate change however, we are part of a global effort. This network will be a very useful platform for us to learn and share experiences, knowledge, innovation and lessons with others toward a low carbon economy,” said Steffen Frankenberg, Vice President, GoGreen Programme, Deutsche Post World Net.
Finally, News Limited – which is part of News Corporation – has become the first media organisation globally to join the CN Net, with its 2007 commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent within three years through a company-wide energy reduction plan “One Degree”.
News Limited chairman and chief executive, John Hartigan, said One Degree continues to be a priority for News Limited which is on target to become carbon neutral by the end of 2010.
“The economic difficulties being faced across the world simply amplify the need to reduce energy consumption. We are continuing to pursue aggressive energy reduction plans across every part of our operations. Over 85 per cent of our carbon footprint has been audited and around 100 projects are being evaluated or implemented across the business,” Mr Hartigan said.
UN agencies move towards climate neutrality
Under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations pledged to work towards climate neutrality in 2007. As part of this commitment, UNEP itself went climate neutral on 1 January 2008 and became the first UN agency to join the CN Net.
The UNEP-administered Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has also taken significant steps to move towards climate neutrality in 2008, becoming the first institution among UN agencies to have purchased offsets to balance its carbon emissions.
Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, explained: “According to available data, 87 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions of U NEP in 2007 were caused by travel of staff and delegates to official meetings. This convinced me of the need to act swiftly if climate neutrality is to become a reality.”
The Secretariat of the Basel Convention is currently developing its inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for 2008 and intends to further develop its plan towards climate neutrality by extending its climate-neutral policy to travel and procurement. The Secretariat is also significantly reducing its printing outputs and favouring online solutions for distribution activities.
For more information contact:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson and Head of Media, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, or when traveling: +41 795965737, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or: Xenya Cherny Scanlon, Information Officer, Climate Neutral Network, on Tel: +254 20 762 4387, Mobile: +254 721 847 563, or e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.unep.org/climateneutral