‘Our work strives to make part of our business model obsolete,’ says Stephen Neff, Managing Director of myclimate. He’s talking about voluntary carbon offsetting. ‘It would be great if a combination of behavioural changes, technical innovation and mandatory carbon offsetting meant that this area was no longer needed.’ The charity myclimate has been involved in the fight against climate change since 2002. In addition to its preventative work, it is primarily known for its voluntary carbon offsetting services. As a climate protection organisation, myclimate is funded via climate-damaging activities undertaken by its donors. But Stephen Neff does not want to see the charity’s work as selling indulgences. ‘We offer climate protection measures. It’s not about conscience alone: it’s a question of causation,’ he says. If you cause carbon emissions to be released, you should at least offset them – and people paid out 17 million Swiss francs for this in 2018.
Flight emissions tops the list of all carbon offsetting measures
‘Of course, the ideal scenario would be if we didn’t emit any CO2 at all,’ says Stephen Neff. ‘But offsetting is still the next best option.’ To do so, myclimate funds projects such as returning the upland moor in the canton of Glarus’ Schwändital to its natural state, or reducing the amount of wood burned by providing more efficient cookers in Rwanda. 2018 was the first year that myclimate’s projects offset more than a million tonnes of CO2 emissions, and this figure will grow substantially in 2019*. At the start, this kind of demand would have swamped myclimate: there weren’t enough projects available. They’ve now been established, meaning that myclimate can respond effectively to increased demand. This is also necessary, given current discussions about the climate. ‘The topics of climate change and climate protection have finally taken hold in the public consciousness,’ says Stephen Neff. All kinds of things can be offset: driving a car, your household, or your own carbon footprint. Flying is by far and away the activity most frequently offset by private individuals, although this service is most commonly used by companies.