The idea: offset certificates
Too much CO2 in the atmosphere
Oil for heating, fuel for the car, coal-fired power for the fridge: Fossil fuels are still the biggest source of energy used to meet our everyday needs. These fossil fuels took centuries to form, and the greenhouse gases they contain – measured as CO2 equivalents – are released again when the fuels are burned, and go on to enter the atmosphere. Due to the increase in greenhouse gases, our planet is slowly but steadily becoming warmer, more uncomfortable and more unpredictable.
We offset our unavoidable emissions
For 2020, we are offsetting all emissions resulting from the direct use of energy for electricity, heating and business transactions, etc. for the first time. This has all been presented in our life cycle assessment (PDF 79 KB). But aren’t we taking the easy way out? “No,” says Kim Berrendorf, Sustainability Communications Manager for the Baloise Group: “In a first step, we try to avoid emissions as far as possible, i.e. to prevent them from arising in the first place. Wherever this is not possible, we reduce them to a minimum. Only then do we consider offsetting.”
1. Prevent, 2. Reduce
Our direct CO2 emissions have fallen continually by 74.4 per cent since 2000, with just 1.9 tonnes of CO2 emitted per employee in 2020. Contributing factors include our climate-friendly company buildings and the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources at all locations where we can determine the mix ourselves. We are also tackling our indirect emissions, which are not yet documented in our life cycle assessment, with our responsible investment policy.
3. Offsetting – but how?
The idea of carbon offsetting
Companies and individuals can offset their own greenhouse gas emissions by buying CO2 certificates from climate protection projects. Such projects promote, for example, the expansion of renewable energies (solar power, biogas, hydropower) and thus reduce the consumption of fossil energy or bind greenhouse gases (e.g. through reforestation). Each certificate corresponds to one tonne of CO2 that is not emitted thanks to this project. The companies and individuals can consider themselves climate-neutral if they buy enough certificates to compensate for their emissions. For us, however, climate-neutrality is about more than simply offsetting everything. We want to avoid as much as possible, reduce as far as possible and only then offset all emissions that cannot be avoided. In order to be able to implement this even more carefully in the future, we are currently working towards obtaining a better overview of our direct and indirect emissions.
Together with Swiss Climate
We selected three certified projects in cooperation with Swiss Climate to offset the approximately 11,000 tonnes that we as a company emitted Group-wide in 2020. The projects are both related to countries in which we are active, and international in character – because emissions know no national borders:
The targeted management of forests can enable the CO2 store to be increased naturally over the years: The Frenktäler forest climate protection project in Canton Basel-Landschaft manages the forest in such a way that wood supplies can be increased continuously from 368 to 389 m3/ha by 2050. This increase will enable an estimated 900 tonnes of CO2 to be stored annually. A decision to avoid a planned reduction will mean that an additional 1,850 tonnes of CO2 will remain stored. This results in the availability of a total of 2,750 certificates of one tonne of CO2 each.
The Frenktäler forest division currently actively manages 1,076ha and leaves 170ha to nature. The forest is composed of about 60 per cent deciduous trees and 40 per cent conifers, and the forest areas are FSC- and PEFC-certified.
By working together with the local population, the forest protection project in the Amazon prevents the threatened deforestation of an area of 150,000ha, thereby protecting not only the natural CO2 sink, but also the diverse flora and fauna of the Brazilian rainforest. This will prevent emissions of 22 million tonnes of CO2 over a total period of 40 years.
Since 2008, the project has been working with families from the Ribeirinhos community to ensure sustainable land use for them in the Brazilian rainforest. The project supports the development of local possibilities for action, and enables the transfer of legal land use rights of government-owned forests to local families.
The project recycles environmentally harmful methane gas from disused coal mines in western Germany, where firedamp often remains even after closure. This gas consists primarily of methane, which has a greenhouse effect some 20 times stronger than CO2 and is highly explosive.
As part of the project, firedamp is destroyed in a controlled manner and used to generate heat and electricity. The project therefore not only reduces environmental impact, but makes productive use of the gas for energy production. At the same time, jobs are created and innovative technologies promoted. The project prevents the emission of a total of 200,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.