The World Economic Forum is practicing what it preaches. The group, an independent organization committed to improving the state of the world by furthering economic growth and social progress, is spreading its philosophy of sustainable development as far away as the island of Java.
The forum purchased reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from a geothermal project in Java, Indonesia to fully offset the global warming impact of its annual meeting taking place in New York.
The project to offset the meeting''s impact on global warming has been done for three consecutive years. As part of the World Economic Forum''s continuing program to work with governments and corporations to lead sustainable development, the forum has purchased 4,000 tons of CO2 equivalent reductions from the Gunung Salak Geothermal plant, operated by PT. PLN, PERTAMINA and Unocal Geothermal Indonesia through the displacement of coal-fired power generation by geothermal power generation.
"Our mission to improve the state of the world must focus on improving the environment in a way that does not jeopardize economic progress, and emissions trading is a market-based mechanism that achieves this," said Jose Maria Figueres, managing director of the World Economic Forum.
"Our purchase of emissions reductions zeros out the global warming impact of our annual meeting. We thought it only right that the World Economic Forum lead by example," he added.
"The World Economic Forum''s purchase of credits from this Indonesian project to offset its conference in New York is indicative of the international nature of greenhouse gas emissions trading," said Michael Intrator, managing director of Global Emissions Trading at Natsource, broker of the transaction. "The global market affords organizations around the world an opportunity to find the most cost-effective source of reductions available, and in the end the global environment benefits."
The Swiss-based organization is working with global engineering and construction management firm CH2M HILL to measure the carbon emissions that will be directly produced by the participants'' travel to and from the meeting and by the event itself. This so-called "Carbon Footprint" amounted last year to 3,500 tons of CO2 equivalent. In consideration of the additional miles traveled to reach New York City, the Forum has already committed to buy 4,000 tons of CO2 equivalent, and to buy any additional amount required to cover the final amount of emissions as calculated by CH2M HILL.
"The operations of each company and organization inevitably have an effect on the global environment, and understanding your ''carbon footprint'' is a first step towards mitigating the environmental impacts of those operations," said Dr. Dan Arvizu, senior vice president of Energy and Industrial Systems for CH2M HILL.
The Environmental Resources Trust (ERT) conducted a review of the Indonesian project''s emission reductions. ERT confirms that the Gunung Salak plant displaces electricity that would have been generated by more carbon-intensive, fossil-fuel-dependent sources. "But for the Gunung Salak geothermal project, Indonesia''s CO2 emissions from electricity production would have been significantly greater," said Wiley Barbour, ERT''s director of Registry Services.
The 362-megawatt Gunung Salak Geothermal Project emits approximately 2.6 million tons per year less carbon dioxide than a comparable-sized coal-fired electrical generating plant.
"This transaction demonstrates that the environmental benefits associated with geothermal operations can be valued, thus improving the prospects for future geothermal development in Indonesia," said Irzawadi Agus, general manager of PERTAMINA Geothermal.
The theme of the 2002 annual meeting is "Leadership in Fragile Times: A Vision for a Shared Future."
"The environmental offset program demonstrates the ability of organizations to shape a new vision for the global agenda in which the environment can be protected in a cost-efficient manner," concluded Figueres.
By Sandy Smith ([email protected])