Brick kilns in Bangladesh, electric-powered bicycles and biodegradable plates are all part of host country Denmark’s plans to offset the climate impact of a major UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen.
The aim of the conference is to seek a new global pact on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012.
Organizers say some 15,000 delegates, including climate negotiators, and almost 100 heads of state and government are expected to attend the UN climate change conference that runs for almost two weeks, December 7-18.
That means a lot of fuel burnt getting delegates to and from Copenhagen and a large carbon footprint that must be offset.
To ease that problem, the government of Denmark decided to make use of the clean development mechanism (CDM), set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, to fund some 20 new brick kilns in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh.
Under the CDM, funding those climate-friendly projects partially offsets some of the carbon put into the atmosphere by the delegates’ flights.
Former Danish climate and energy minister Connie Hedegaard, who is to host the UN meeting, underlined that: “Bangladesh is one of the countries hardest hit by climate change, and there is an enormous need to help the country with technology and capital transfers.
“There were several reasons why we selected Bangladesh. We wanted to demonstrate that the CDM mechanism can also benefit the least developed countries and we also chose the project because it contributes to social and environmental development in the host country,” Christian van Maarschalkerweerd of the Danish Energy Agency told the German Press Agency DPA.
There has been some criticism that CDM projects have been concentrated in too few countries, like Brazil, China and India. The Bangladesh project offers a chance to improve the reach of CDM.
“We wanted to show that it was possible to conduct projects in least developed countries. So we looked at opportunities in different African countries and in Bangladesh and found this project that lived up to our sustainability criteria,” he added.
The new coal-fired kilns are more energy efficient, and use only half the amount of coal required by older kilns. Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are halved; particle emissions will fall even further.
The next step is greening the Bella Centre, the site of the climate conference.
Efforts have been made in recent years to lower the facility’s CO2 emissions and reduce the use of energy, water and other materials.
Measures include modernizing and optimizing the heating and ventilation system and installing energy efficient lights.
Additionally, chilled water tanks have replaced thousands of bottles of water.
Next, while heads of state and government will likely be escorted in motorcades to the conference centre, other delegates are encouraged to use the metro, trains or city buses ... or even to bicycle to the venue.
At the metro station that serves the Bella Centre, 40 electric powered bicycles and 160 ordinary bicycles are to be made available for delegates.
Copenhagen prides itself as a bicycle-friendly city with some 350 kilometres of bicycle lanes. Bikes are a mode of transport used by one in three Copenhageners to get to school or work, so the Danish government said it hopes other countries will be inspired to follow suit.
Additionally, between 80 and 100 chefs are to be on hand to prepare top-notch meals for delegates. But those meals will be served on biodegradable and compostable plates made from palm leaves.
Cutlery, as well as cups and clear glasses -- for warm and cold beverages -- will also be biodegradable and compostable, supplier Greenway Denmark said.
“All our products are produced taking CO2 into consideration,” said Soren Andreassen, managing director of the small firm based in northern Jutland.
Once disposed of, the products can also be used to produce biogas, a source for fuel, Andreassen said, adding that he thinks there will be growing demand for such “cradle to cradle-products.”