Why does atmosfair only support climate protection projects in the Global South?

There are several reasons why atmosfair focuses solely on supporting climate protection projects in the Global South.

Climate Change and Climate Justice:

Industrialized nations are the main contributors to climate change. Only about seven percent of the world’s population have ever flown. However, the impacts of climate change are felt first and foremost by countries in the Global South. Therefore, it is only fair that those responsible (in this case, air passengers) use their money through atmosfair to also expand renewable energy in countries in the Global South.

Double Counting Issue:

It may sound like a technicality, but it’s not – climate protection projects in Germany do not lead to CO₂ reduction due to the EU emissions trading system. The CO₂ emissions of all EU countries are precisely recorded and are also “accounted for”. Each EU country is allowed to emit a precisely defined amount of CO₂ until 2030. If a power plant in Poland emits more CO₂ than it is allowed, it must buy the missing tons of CO₂ from another company, for example in France, if that company emits less CO₂ than it is allowed. And therein lies the problem of double counting: the ton of CO₂ saved by France will enter the atmosphere anyway, that’s the principle of emissions trading; overall, there will be fewer CO₂ emissions only because the politically determined total CO₂ quantity until 2030 is lower compared to 2012. So if a wind farm built by atmosfair in Germany saved CO₂, then exactly the same amount of CO₂ would enter the atmosphere elsewhere in the EU, either immediately or with a delay, because CO₂ emission rights can also be saved and spent later. For this reason, atmosfair operates projects in Germany for awareness raising in schools without attributing CO₂ reductions to them.

Since the Paris Climate Agreement, countries in the Global South also have mandatory emission reduction targets. The emission reductions from atmosfair’s climate protection projects in these countries are recorded in their inventories. To continue to offer compensation and avoid double counting, atmosfair has entered into agreements with some project countries to use the emission reduction certificates. This also promotes the further development of renewable energy technologies in these countries. To continue to offer compensation and avoid double counting, atmosfair has been operating the projects according to the new framework of the Paris Climate Protection Agreement since January 1, 2021. atmosfair’s compensation projects have already received commitments from host countries (including so-called Corresponding Adjustments) or use CO₂ reductions from before the above-mentioned deadline to exclude double counting.

Optimal Cost-Benefit Ratio:

For every euro invested, a project in a Global South country can save up to ten times more CO₂ than in the EU. Or, to put it another way: if CO₂ compensation for your flight were to be saved again with solar panels in Germany (regardless of double counting, see point 2), then the compensation for a flight from Frankfurt to Tenerife and back would cost about 200 EUR!

Additional Benefits:

Our climate protection projects support countries in the Global South in sustainable development, such as creating jobs, minimizing household energy costs, or reducing living costs and health risks.

Why doesn't atmosfair plant any trees?

Deforestation and forest loss worldwide pose a huge challenge, not only for global warming. Therefore, atmosfair advocates for reforestation programs. However, we consider financing reforestation through CO₂ certificates to be a risky path because durability is not guaranteed with this form of compensation. Forests must stand securely for over 50 years before the CO₂ savings can be considered permanent, a timeframe that no private actor can guarantee today (nor should they, given the necessary land use decisions and balancing of interests between population, agriculture, or industry by the government). Therefore, reforesting forests does not guarantee that CO₂ will be permanently saved. Trees can be cut down or unintentionally burned. This releases the carbon stored in the trees back into the air as CO₂ emissions, thus reversing the emissions initially sequestered by donors.

You can find further information on forest protection projects here.

What does "CDM" stand for?

CDM stands for Clean Development Mechanism. It is defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. It is a United Nations verification process that primarily regulates the accreditation, qualification, and liability of verification organizations in assessing compensation projects, as well as project criteria, consultations with local residents in the project country, transparent documentation, etc.

The CDM standard expired in 2020 following the Paris Agreement on climate protection.

A subsequent standard is currently being developed by the United Nations. Climate protection projects by atmosfair are developed according to CDM standards and registered with the Gold Standard (Swiss Foundation). The Gold Standard obligates atmosfair projects to additional benefits such as job creation locally, local environmental protection, or contribution to health improvement. This means that, in addition to CO₂ reduction, the projects must make a sustainable contribution to climate protection and improve living conditions in project areas in Global South countries.

You can find detailed information about our standards here.

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

Household projects are underrepresented in the CDM, accounting for only about 1%. The precise and transparent verification of CO₂ reduction by accredited auditors is disproportionately time-consuming for most small projects. Consequently, an idea of the Paris Agreement on climate protection is quickly sidelined: the connection of climate protection with local sustainable development and poverty reduction in Global South countries. To address this issue, atmosfair fundamentally supports household projects.

Why doesn't atmosfair have any projects in Germany?

See “Why does atmosfair only support climate protection projects in the Global South?”

Can I select a project with which I offset?

Yes, for offsetting a flight, atmosfair offers, alongside its project portfolio, projects such as “Efficient Stoves in Rwanda” or “Small Biogas Plants in Nepal” as these are projects for which atmosfair has agreements with the host country for offsetting.

Reducing a desired quantity of CO₂ is only possible within the project portfolio. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, there are both more expensive and cheaper projects, but we aim to support them all. Secondly, there are projects that may not appear as attractive to donors, but atmosfair has already committed to supporting them. And thirdly, projects evolve: while a project may require little funding in one year, it may unexpectedly require more the next. Our primary focus in funding is to align with what local communities need at present.

What is the difference between offsetting and reducing a desired amount of CO₂?

All climate protection projects offered by atmosfair for savings and compensation were under the Kyoto Protocol according to the CDM standard and are additionally registered under the Gold Standard.

Since the Paris Climate Agreement, every country (and thus also countries in the Global South) has had mandatory emission reduction targets.

If the atmosfair climate protection project saves CO₂ emissions, the savings are automatically recorded in the inventory of the project country. atmosfair thus supports the host country in achieving its CO₂ emission targets. This model is called Contribution Claim.

For offsetting, atmosfair has agreed with the host country of the project (Corresponding Adjustment) that the saved CO₂ emissions will not appear in the inventory of the project country, but will be made available to atmosfair. atmosfair thus continues to promote the expansion of renewable energy technologies in the project country and offers compensation for you.

You can find further information on Contribution Claims (CC) and Corresponding Adjustment (CA) here.