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Fact sheet: Minimising the Copenhagen carbon footprint

An estimated 15,000 people representing Governments, NGOs, IGOs, along with over 2,000 journalists will travel to Copenhagen from all over the world for the conference.  The main objective of the organisers is to minimise greenhouse gas emissions as far as possible. Whatever cannot be avoided, is to be offset. In addition, every delegate can make a difference by, for example, choosing the most sustainable form of international and local transport.

Greenhouse gas emissions fall into two parts: international travel, which forms by far the largest part; and secondly, local emissions of the host country covering such things as energy consumed and waste generated at the conference venue, hotel accommodation and local transportation. An initial estimate of overall emissions result in a figure of 40,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. (i)

What steps is the Danish Government taking to minimise emissions?

The Danish Government has identified sustainability as one of its top priorities for the Conference. To this end it has publicised a number of steps:

  • The Conference site (The Bella Center) is to reach a 20% reduction in CO2 leading up to COP 15 by implementing a range of energy saving measures.
  • Hotel owners have been encouraged to expand the number of environmentally friendly, certified hotel rooms.
  • Delegates are encouraged to use the public transport system to reach the Bella Center, drink tap water to avoid bottle waste, and minimise paper waste.
  • There will be no gifts or conference bags for delegates. Instead, money saved has been invested in 11 scholarships for students from around the world attending a fully financed two years MA education in Denmark.

How does the Danish Government plan to offset emissions?

To ensure the conference will be climate neutral, the Danish Government, in partnership with Bangladesh and the World Bank, has decided to replace outdated brick kilns in Dhaka. It will see the heavily polluting, existing kilns replaced by 20 new energy efficient ones, which the Danish Energy Agency calculates will cut more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year and improve air quality in one of the world’s most polluted cities. The Danish government has set aside 0.7 million euro as part of this year’s state budget for this purpose. Details can be found here

What about UNFCCC scretariat eissions?

The secretariat uses renewable electricity for all power supply in the premises. A sustainable travel policy is in place, with routes and modes of travel always being taken into consideration, and the use of video-conferences are encouraged whenever possible. Governments are expected to officially authorize the UN Climate Change Secretariat at COP15 in Copenhagen to begin systematically offsetting emissions from travel as of 2010.

(i) The exact figure is 40,548 tCO2-eq, which is an estimate based on the calculations from the Poznan Conference in December 2008 (COP-14) and extrapolated for 15,000 participants. Additionally, the radiative forcing index (RFI) for long-haul air travel used was 2.7. This estimate will be updated after the COP once the actual participation is known.