As part of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, RESCCUE has become the first of its projects to be carbon neutral.
Since 2013, SPC has already reduced its greenhouse gases emissions by 17 percent, while many daily behaviours have changed – for example sorting and recycling waste that has become part of staff routine.
The RESCCUE project (Restoration of ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change), implemented by SPC and funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM), is now piloting a new phase for the organisation that could allow an even more drastic reduction of its negative environmental impacts.
For RESCCUE, a five-year regional project aiming at increasing the resilience of Pacific ecosystems and societies, it is a matter of consistency: having positive local outcomes in pilot sites is fundamental, but what about the greenhouse gases emitted while delivering those outcomes?
“Besides on-the-ground tangible activities, regional projects like RESCCUE necessarily involve significant travel and electricity consumption for example. As climate change awareness is rapidly rising in the Pacific, I think we all wonder at some point if our projects could do better and minimize our negative impacts while of course not hampering our activities”, explained SPC RESCCUE Project Coordinator, Raphaël Billé.
RESCCUE is now implementing a three-pronged strategy to reduce its footprint and achieve carbon neutrality.
First, greenhouse gases emissions are avoided whenever possible, for example by thinking twice before jumping on a plane, favouring teleconferences or simply cycling to work.
Second, emissions that cannot be avoided are reduced to the extent possible, for instance by choosing central hub locations for regional meetings or contracting caterers that use local products.
Third, emissions that cannot be avoided nor reduced are offset through a partnership with Ekos, a New Zealand-based carbon offsetting charity and its Pacific Island rainforest carbon programme called the Nakau Programme. The specific project that RESCCUE is purchasing carbon credits from is the Loru Forest Project, on eastern Santo, Vanuatu.
Through this partnership, each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted under RESCCUE generates revenue for indigenous landowners at Loru in Vanuatu who have given up rights to logging timber so as to generate carbon credits sold on the voluntary carbon market.
This scheme is certified by the Plan Vivo standard, the world’s leading fare trade, community-based rainforest carbon standard, officially making RESCCUE the first SPC carbon neutral project.
“What I find particularly innovative and exemplary is that RESCCUE strives to implement this holistic approach by first looking at options to avoid and reduce its greenhouse gases emissions before resorting to offsets. It is really important for all of us that offsets not translate into a licence to pollute, but be a pragmatic avenue towards sustainability”, SPC Environmental Sustainability Coordinator, Aude Chenet observed.
In addition to SPC’s emissions reduction efforts, RESCCUE’s donors, AFD and FFEM, also take their social and environmental responsibility very seriously. They have been fully supportive of RESCCUE’s efforts to reduce its climate footprint.
“The implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and Sustainable Development Goals is at the top of AFD’s global agenda. We can only encourage our partners to lead by example like SPC is doing. And we are especially pleased to see that every Euro spent to offset RESCCUE’s emissions is directly reinvested within the Pacific region to the benefit of local communities through the Nakau Programme,” the Director of Noumea AFD office, Karine de Frémont, said.
It is estimated that over its five years of implementation, RESCCUE will have emitted about 400 tons of CO2.