FACT-Finder has joined up with Atmosfair, a climate protection organization that also helps provide renewable energy to developing countries around the world.
Let’s go back to science class. Carbon, in its most basic form, is an element. In fact, it’s the most common element for life on Earth – from the air we breathe to the crops we grow, and the chemical makeup of our own bodies, carbon is literally the basis for life. When talking about carbon emissions, we’re specifically focusing on carbon dioxide aka CO2. This colorless, odorless and non-poisonous gas is formed by combustion of carbon and in the respiration of living organisms and is considered a greenhouse gas.
In nature, CO2 releases into the atmosphere in multiple ways, such as between the oceans and atmosphere and by animals and plants through respiration. Yet nature is able to keep most of these emissions in balance – oceans absorb just as much CO2 as they let off and plants absorb CO2 through photosynthesis.
Humans, on the other hand, are not as effective as nature when it comes to our own CO2 emissions. When we extract, refine, transport, and burn fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil, we release extra carbon and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. In fact, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. These human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.
Why is that concerning? Because greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer.
What impact does air travel have?
Many transportation activities such as air travel cause climate-damaging CO₂ emissions. Currently, no technical solution for air travel, such as unproblematic biofuels or a zero-emissions plane exists. All aircraft that burn fuels leave behind a trail of exhaust fumes and soot. At high altitudes, water vapor often condenses on the soot particles and freezes to form a cirrus cloud that can persist for seconds to hours, depending on temperature and humidity. Clouds can have both a cooling and warming effect. They reflect some of the sun’s rays back into space, but also block some of the heat radiated by Earth’s surface. On average, both thin natural cirrus clouds and contrails have a net warming effect.
What is Atmosfair?
Lowering levels of atmospheric carbon is a critical issue. First, we can avoid the situations that cause it and second, revert what’s already been done. When we apply this approach to carbon emissions, it means we can either lower our carbon footprint or offset it.
The non-profit organization recommends that for climate protection reasons, CO₂ avoidance should have priority over other measures. If it is not possible to avoid CO₂ emissions, at least measures should be taken in order to reduce them as much as possible.
Until airplane technology changes, passengers can offset their flight emissions with Atmosfair. People who donate to the cause make a voluntary climate protection payment based on the amount of emissions they create, and Atmosfair uses these contributions to develop renewable energies in countries where they hardly exist, above all in developing countries.
How does CO₂-offsetting work?
Offsetting is an essential part of a comprehensive carbon strategy that aims at reducing companies’ climate impact. Through active contributions to protecting the environment, Atmosfair can compensate emissions created by business travel with high quality climate protection projects. It is an effective way to deal with those emissions that can’t be avoided or further reduced through other measures.
Atmosfair develops renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries to compensate customers’ greenhouse gas emissions. In this way, Atmosfair saves CO₂ that would otherwise be created by fossil fuels in these countries. Meanwhile, local people profit since often for the first time, they gain access to clean energy available around the clock, which is a must for education and creating equal opportunities.
In contrast to re- and afforestation projects, only renewable energy and energy efficiency offset projects guarantee measurable and permanent CO₂ reductions. In addition, these projects have immediate co-benefits for the population, the economy and the environment in the partner countries.
Atmosfair’s climate projects are in the areas of:
Efficient cooking stoves: benefits for the
climate, environment and people
In Lesotho, Nigeria and Rwanda, more and more parts of the native forest disappear because of the lack of alternative cooking fuels. The dissemination of efficient cooking stoves stops the slashing of the local forest. Further benefits for the cooking stove users include 80% lower expenses for wood fuel and less smoke emissions that used to harm women and children in particular. Sales and distribution by local entrepreneurs lead to sustainable economic development. And the use of the cooking stoves has a global impact, too: each stove saves more than two tons of CO₂ per year.
Biogas from cow dung: climate
friendly energy for households
In countries such as Kenya and India, biomass is the most important source of energy. An average Kenyan family consumes more than 15 kg of wood fuel per day. Your offset fee finances an alternative: small biogas reactors convert cow dung into biogas for cooking and, as a byproduct, into a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be used on the fields or sold to neighboring farmers. These 2-3 m³ units are built by locally trained masons. Thus, know-how is transferred to the local population stimulating economic development.
Corporate responsibility today requires setting and reaching concrete targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. FACT-Finder’s dedication to sustainability and corporate social responsibility led to joining forces with Atmosfair to accelerate the creation of a just and low-carbon emissions world by contributing to CO₂ offsetting.
It’s a cause our Founder & CEO, Carsten Kraus, is personally committed to. Leading by example and including sustainability as part of his overall vision and value, he has been compensating for his personal travel since 2017. In 2019, he extended this commitment to business activities and implemented active contributions to compensate for emissions created by FACT-Finder’s business travels. “The principle behind Atmosfair’s CO₂ compensation is as simple as it is effective. Omikron donates an amount of money per ton of CO₂ caused by our business flights,” says Kraus.
He further explains, “The money we contribute allows Atmosfair to create energy-efficient ‘technology’ projects which even out the flight-CO2 within one year. Most projects remain beneficial after that year, so that over time, the donation takes more CO2 out of the atmosphere than the flight has caused. What does this technology look like? Sometimes it looks quite simple, like building cooking hearths in African homes; yet, those projects are very effective: compared to open fire a hearth burns only one third of wood for cooking the same meal.”
Tools for travelers
This tool compares and ranks the carbon efficiency of the 200 largest airlines in the world. It enables passengers to compare airlines offering flights to particular destinations and choose the airline that produces the least CO₂ emissions.
Calculate your flight’s CO₂ footprint and offset costs in renewable energy projects. If you choose to donate to help offset your emissions, you will receive a personal certificate and a donation receipt.
Atmosfair is a German non-profit organization that actively contributes to CO₂ mitigation by promoting, developing and financing renewable energies in over 15 countries worldwide. They rely exclusively on voluntary climate payments from private individuals and businesses. Aiming to decarbonize the world economy, Atmosfair designed their software tools and consulting services to assist businesses in executing their climate policies, with a particular focus on business travel.