Our climate protection projects

Why does atmosfair only support climate protection projects in developing countries?

There are several reasons for this.

1. Climate change and climate justice: industrialised countries are the main cause of climate change. Only about seven percent of the world population has ever flown. The consequences of climate change will affect developing countries first and most strongly. For this reason, it is only fair that those who cause it (the flight passengers in this case) use their money to develop renewable energies in developing countries through atmosfair.

2. Problem of double counting. This sounds like a formality, but isn't: due to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, climate protection projects in Germany do not lead to CO2 reduction. The CO2 emissions of all EU countries are recorded exactly and are moreover "counted." Each EU country is allowed to emit an exactly specified amount of CO2 until the year 2020. However, if a power plant in Poland emits more CO2 than it was allotted, it must buy the missing tonnes of CO2 from another company, for example in France, if this company emits less CO2 than it is allotted. In this lies the problem of double counting: the tonne saved by the French will definitely make its way into the atmosphere – this is the principle of the Emissions Trading Scheme. In all, it will only be fewer CO2 emissions because the total amount of politically established CO2 is less in 2020 compared to 2012. So if a wind park built by atmosfair in Germany saves CO2, exactly the same amount of CO2 would make its way once more into the atmosphere from somewhere else in the EU, either immediately or with a delay because the CO2 emission allowances can be saved and expended later.

For this reason, atmosfair runs projects in Germany that raise awareness in schools without crediting itself with reductions in CO2.

3. Optimal cost-benefit ratio: per euro investment, a project in a developing country can save up to ten times as much CO2 as in the EU. In other words, if you want to offset the CO2 for your flight with solar panels in Germany (disregarding double counting, see point 2), for example, then offsetting a flight from Frankfurt to Tenerife and back would cost around 200 euros! Additional benefit: our climate protection projects support developing countries by helping them to develop sustainably (for example, through job creation, the minimisation of household energy costs, or the reduction in the cost of living and health risks).


Why doesn't atmosfair plant any trees?

Deforestation and the loss of forests worldwide present a huge challenge, and not only for global warming. For this reason, atmosfair is in favour of reforestation programmes. However, we consider financing reforestation through CO2 certificates to be a dangerous path because this approach does not guarantee the permanence of the offsetting. Forests have to exist safely for over 50 years before the CO2 savings can count as permanent – a period of time that no private actor can guarantee today (and should not be able to promise considering the necessary land use decisions and considerations of interested parties within the population, agriculture, or industry on the part of the government).

Reforestation does not guarantee long-term CO2 savings. Trees can be felled or burn down unplanned. Through this, the carbon stored in the trees escapes again as carbon dioxide emissions in the air, allowing the emissions that were originally tied to the contributor to be set free again.

What does "CDM" stand for?

CDM stands for Clean Development Mechanism. The CDM is defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol from 1997. In this, CDM is a verification process of the United Nations that above all regulates the approval, qualification, and liability of testing organisations in the auditing of offsetting projects as well as project criteria, hearings of the residents in the host country, transparent documentation, etc.

atmosfair's climate protection projects are registered with the UN as CDM projects and additionally registered with the Gold Standard (Swiss foundation). This means that besides CO2 reduction, the projects must sustainably contribute to climate protection and the improvement of living conditions in the areas where the projects take place in developing countries.

The Gold Standard requires that atmosfair projects add value by creating jobs on-site, protecting the local environment, or contributing to health improvement. You can find detailed information about our standards here.

Is the Gold Standard the highest standard?

No. The Gold Standard is a voluntary additional standard for offsetting projects of a private Swiss foundation. In contrast, the CDM (see "What does ‘CDM' stand for?") is considerably more elaborate and legally binding for offsetting projects within the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. This Clean Development Mechanism of the United Nations requires considerably more from the projects than the Gold Standard, including the written consent to the project from the government of the host country, liable auditors, on-site audits of each individual project, and recurring audits of each project by an elected body of representatives with equal rights from industrialised and developing countries (CDM Executive Board). The highest body of the CDM is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which with 192 member states monitors all activities worldwide of the Executive Board.

Why are there so many household projects and not large projects, such as wind parks?

Household projects are underrepresented at just around 1% of CDM projects. For most small projects, the exact and transparent verification of CO2 reduction by UN-accredited auditors is excessively costly. Thus, an ideal behind the Kyoto Protocol falls by the wayside: the combination of climate protection with local, sustainable development and fighting poverty in developing countries. In order to do this ideal justice, atmosfair supports household projects as a matter of principle.

Why doesn't atmosfair have any projects in Germany?

See "Why does atmosfair only support climate protection projects in developing countries?"

Can I select a project for which I offset?

No. There are several reasons for this:

First of all, there are more costly, and there are cheaper projects, but we want to support them all.

Secondly, there are projects that do not appear very attractive to donators, but that atmosfair has already made a commitment to fund.

Thirdly, projects develop: while a project may require little money in the first year, it can unexpectedly require more in the next year.

With regard to funding, first and foremost we want to orient ourselves towards what the people on-site need today.