Newsletter 02/2015

Berlin, June 2015

Dear readers,

The head of states of the G7 nations announced in June that they want to completely stop the worldwide emission of greenhouse gases by the end of the century. That is a remarkable message. However, it will not happen with words alone; acts must now follow. A recent study from the Universities of Kassel and Hamburg has now contributed scientific evidence that voluntary offsetting can help to achieve a climate turnaround, provide more climate justice, and create lifestyles that are sustainable for the climate.

Instead of waiting for a global trend reversal, we can take action ourselves; the first Berlin Climate Day was able to show this. At the atmosfair stand, you could experience climate protection in the form of our Save80 stove and wonderbox as well as a lot of information about our projects all over the world. At the moment, the atmosfair team is preparing for a visit to help our partners in Nepal, where the severe earthquakes destroyed many biogas systems. Now we will focus on their repair and further projects around the development of new energy sources. For this, we also need your support.

A new experience for us is collaborating with medicine student Fernando and a German doctor, who are studying the lungs of people in a refugee camp in Rwanda who use our stoves instead of open hearths in the tents.

You can find more information about our work in the current Annual Report 2014, this time with a focus on project testing (Link zum Download).

Thank you very much for your support,

Dietrich Brockhagen

Managing Director of atmosfair

P.S. Please send your questions and suggestions to us at

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G7 meeting of finance ministers 2015 in Dresden offset by atmosfair

G7 meeting of finance ministers 2015 in Dresden

G7 meeting of finance ministers 2015 in Dresden

The German Federal Ministry of Finance and the German Central Bank commissioned atmosfair to calculate the CO2 emissions produced by the G7 Finance Summit 2015 in Dresden. The emissions produced by the event were offset by atmosfair climate protection projects. As part of the German G7 presidency, the finance ministers and central governors of the seven leading industrialised nations met from May 27th to 29th in Dresden. Whether a business or private event, atmosfair can calculate the climate impact of your event and create a detailed CO2 report.

You can find more information here:

New study refutes the "selling indulgences" theory

Studie Uni Kassel

Studies of the University Kassel

Kassel, May 2015: Voluntary offsetting should become as common in daily life as LED lights or energy-saving refrigerators. That is the message behind a new study from the Universities of Kassel and Hamburg. The scientists investigated what is behind the accusation that voluntary CO2 offsetting payments hardly help the climate and only clear consumers’ consciences. “CO2 offsetting is definitely not like selling indulgences, but rather makes it possible to offset emissions that are difficult to avoid. Altogether, this should lead to more climate protection,” says the leader of the area Empirical Economic Research at the University of Kassel, Professor Andreas Ziegler.

The researchers did not find any indications that voluntary offsetting would strengthen consumer behaviour that is especially damaging to the climate. By means of two surveys in Germany and the United States, the authors could show that above all, people who were already ecologically oriented voluntarily pay a surplus fee for products that harm the climate such as flights. In addition, they tend towards climate-friendly consumer behaviour in other areas if they have paid an additional fee for climate protection projects to offset their own CO2 emissions at an earlier point.

The willingness to pay a higher price for consumption that harms the climate is much greater in Germany at 54 percent of those surveyed than it is in the U.S. (37 percent). However, over 40 percent did not even answer the question on whether they would be willing to offset voluntarily. For people in both countries, the feeling of doing something good for the climate and the environment is closely connected to the motivation to pay for behaviour that damages the climate. In Germany, the question of “green identity” plays an important role: people with a strong environmental conscience view voluntary offsetting as a part of a climate-friendly life. In the U.S., the survey found that this motivation is less common. There, the most important thing is to set an example for others. The study’s investigators state, though, that many people are not adequately informed about voluntary compensation. However, the survey shows that there is a higher motivation if those surveyed are already informed about opportunities to voluntarily offset. The scientists thus believe that there is an important gap in information. You can download the study here

atmosfair at the first Berlin Climate Day

atmosfair at the first Berlin Climate Day

atmosfair at the first Berlin Climate Day

Berlin: Anyone can protect the climate: hundreds of interested people could learn how at the first Berlin Climate Day on April 26th. Together with the visitors, we went on a visual trip around the world in the form of a slideshow of all of our projects. How does the "Save80" stove, with which one can save 80 percent of the usual amount of firewood used during cooking, work? Above all and fitting to the day's theme, however, our participants could apply tips to their own lives. How many carbon dioxide emissions are actually produced by different holiday trips? The visitors were asked to provide estimates. Perhaps some of them will prefer to travel by train or bus in the future if a flight is not absolutely unavoidable. Our delicious recipes offered culinary inspiration from, for example, Cameroon. A small tip: you can find these recipes in our Annual Report if you want to try them out (Link). Besides atmosfair, around 30 other exhibitors from the energy, food, consumer goods, and transportation industries presented themselves in Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg. They showed that all areas of social action and life play a role in climate change. All in all, it resulted in a wide-ranging programme with a vegan cooking class, podium discussions, and presentations – for example, by representatives from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). It was a complete success and perhaps a model for Climate Days in other cities!

Concerns about our project partners in Nepal

Kathmandu: At the beginning of July, atmosfair employees will fly to Nepal in order to conclude agreements with our local partners supporting measures to repair and rebuild the damage caused there.

The severe earthquakes in Nepal on April 25th and May 12th have also affected the atmosfair team. Of particular concern were the farms in the earthquake region that use our biogas units as well as biogas unit farmers in the network of our project partner Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), with whom we have collaborated since 2014 on a nationwide biogas programme. As a precaution, the AEPC office in Kathmandu was evacuated after the first earthquake. After almost four weeks of working in makeshift tents, the office building was assessed to be safe, and the employees were able to return to their offices. We are incredibly relieved that none of the employees were badly hurt.

Unfortunately, many Nepalese, especially those in the Himalaya region, did not get off so lightly. Even weeks after the catastrophe, the rebuilding is only progressing slowly. Now time is running out because the monsoon will begin soon, and with this, the heavy rain or snow at higher altitudes. People who completely lost their housing will soon have to submit to the wet and cold weather without shelter.

The damage to the biogas project supported by atmosfair is also devastating. Although possible damage to the biogas units has not yet been determined, there are initial estimates. Our project partner AEPC believes that several thousand biogas units were affected. After the monsoon season (from October onward), these will be repaired. atmosfair will stand by its partners’ side in this task and support the affected households in rebuilding.

You can find more information about the atmosfair biogas programme in Nepal here:

Fight against air pollution: atmosfair health study in Rwanda refugee camp

lung functioning tests in Rwanda

lung functioning tests in Rwanda

Kigali, April 2015: Medical student Fernando was commissioned by atmosfair to perform lung functioning tests in Rwanda for a study on inhabitants of a UN refugee camp. A total of 500 people participated in the first phase of the study. The lung functioning tests will be repeated with the inhabitants after six to eight months with the atmosfair “Save80” stoves. Comparing the results will provide information about whether the efficient stoves not only save wood, but also decrease the negative impact of smoke on people’s lungs. Besides this, Fernando instructed Rwandan employees so that they can conduct the lung functioning tests themselves and participate in these tests over the coming months. The study will be completed at the beginning of 2016.

The numbers from the World Health Organization are alarming: 4.3 million people die annually worldwide due to indoor air pollution – this is more than from malaria. Common illnesses include lung infections, chronic pulmonary diseases, asthma, or cancer. Together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and doctors from the University of Lübeck as well as the non-profit organisation Buana from Hamburg, atmosfair is implementing a health study in Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda.

What has been missing until now is tangible, empirical data on the extent to which efficient ovens can contribute to the prevention of these diseases. We want to change this! At the moment, the camp inhabitants exclusively use traditional hearths such as the three-stone hearth. These hearths are not just inefficient with regard to firewood usage, but also to the emission of carbon monoxide and fine particles that are mostly responsible for indoor air pollution.

You can find a photo album of the health study and the tests performed up to now here.

Background on a new project in Ethiopia: More than just solar lamps

Ethiopia, June 2015: Since 2014, atmosfair has operated a project to supply energy to rural areas in Ethiopia. The country is one of the poorest in the world; in the UN’s Human Development Index, it ranked 173rd out of 186 countries. It is also lacking in the area of energy provision: in rural areas, not even 2 percent of all households are connected to the energy grid. Thus, people must generally rely on light from kerosene lamps. As one can imagine, these are inefficient both with regards to cost and CO2.

For this reason, atmosfair plans to deliver 20,000 small solar energy systems, so-called Solar Home Systems, to Ethiopian households over the next seven years. For this, we are working together with the solar company Fosera Manufacturing, which has built up the local production of high-quality solar modules in Bahir Dar on Lake Tana in northern Ethiopia. Since the beginning of 2015, several hundred systems have been sold. Besides light, these small systems – each with 3 to 4 lamps – all provide the ability to charge mobile phones or operate a radio. By eliminating the use of kerosene lamps, no more harmful smoke is produced in the households.

However, the project is not merely about distributing solar systems, but also a technological change within the country. Since the beginning of this project, the project partner id-eee (Institute for Decentralized Electrification, Entrepreneurship and Education) from Ulm has instructed university lecturers and students in photovoltaic technology so that they can later pass on this knowledge. In addition, distributors and salespeople are instructed in the maintenance and repairs of the solar systems.

With this project, we and our partners want to combine climate protection with improving living conditions for the local people. Thus, this is a first step towards making Ethiopia a more liveable place for its inhabitants.

You can find further information on the Solar Home project in Ethiopia here:

Efficient stoves in Lesotho: over two tonnes of CO2 saved annually per oven

Lesotho, March 2015: At the beginning of March, an auditor from TÜV Rheinland travelled for a week to Lesotho in order to monitor the emissions savings calculated by atmosfair within the stove project. The trip was organised and accompanied by employees from Solar Lights as well as from atmosfair. For this, the auditor and the team from Solar Lights travelled several hundred kilometres through the country’s foothills over five days in order to visit a total of 60 households.

Lekopa lives in the Leribe district in Lesotho and is part of our efficient stoves project. She is very satisfied with his new equipment: “I use the ‘Save80’ stove three times per day and cook different dishes. In the evening, I cook water, which I keep warm overnight in the wonderbox. Through this, I especially save time the next morning when I prepare breakfast, and the children have warm water with which to wash.”

For the certification of the project, however, positive reviews like that of Lekopa are not sufficient. For this, independent, external auditors must confirm emissions savings according to the principles of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as well as the Gold Standard.

For this, our local partner organisation Solar Lights first carried out the annual monitoring campaign in February. As part of the campaign, 100 randomly selected households were visited and asked about their use of the “Save80” stoves.

The campaign results are necessary in order to calculate the emissions savings achieved by the project. The results show that the stoves are well received by users because they save wood, time, and money. In Lesotho, a Save80 stove saved around 2.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the year 2014.

You can find photos here.