The schwelle Foundation stands for climate justice: But how large are the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the schwelle's work? The Board of Trustees asked itself this question in 2020 and suggested that a climate balance be drawn up.
The focus of a climate balance is to summarise the emissions as meaningfully as possible. Due to the Peace Award ceremony taking place every two years, increased greenhouse gas emissions are to be expected in the years of the award. Consequently, two years were taken as balance years, 2018 (without the Peace Award ceremony) and 2019 (with the Peace Award ceremony). The first step was to determine the scope of the balance, which is shown in the following figure, based on the question of the areas in which greenhouse gas emissions occur at the schwelle.
A greenhouse gas balance is based on the specifications of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol for short), the international standard for recording and balancing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the GHG Protocol, accounting is divided into the following three categories (scopes):
• Scope 1 includes all direct emissions that arise, for example, through combustion processes in production plants, in a company's own vehicle fleet or in a heating system.
• Scope 2 includes all emissions that arise indirectly through the purchase of energy sources such as electricity or district heating.
• Scope 3 contains all other indirect emissions. These include travel and the journeys made by schwelle employees.
The complexity of the climate balance is illustrated using the example of organised events.
The greenhouse gas balances calculated in 2018, 2019 and additionally for 2020 resulted in the following main emitters:
- Annual activity Board of Directors and Board of Trustees without travel: approx. 2 tCO2e/a.
- Long-distance travel with 4 persons: approx. 7.5 tCO2e (every 3 years)
- Project visits within Europe with 4 persons approx. 1.7 tCO2e (every 3 years)
- Peace Award: 10-15 tCO2e (every 2 years)
Calculated over three years, the greenhouse gas emissions are 28 tCO2e, which means that the annual greenhouse gas emissions caused by the schwelle's activities can be assumed to be 10 tCO2e/a on average.
The goal in the second step is to compensate for these emissions. The Board of Trustees discussed whether compensation should take place through compensation providers or through the promotion of CO2-saving projects by our project partners. One of the strengths of the schwelle is its proximity to project partners, which is why the promotion of CO2 savings in a schwelle project, preferably in the solar sector, was favoured.
Our choice fell on our project partner MHOLA (Mama's Hope Organization for Legal Assistance) in Tanzania. MHOLA's headquarters are in Muleba, 70 kilometres from Bukoba on Lake Victoria. On its large premises, MHOLA offers various services to the rural population: a kindergarten with a focus on caring for children with special needs, health care and education, provision of legal aid and psychosocial counselling in its open consultation hours. MHOLA grows vegetables in a large field to provide daily meals for the children and guests. The often-failing electricity grid and the high costs of running the irrigation pump posed a major problem for MHOLA.
Our proposal to expand MHOLA's existing solar power system was happily received (the existing system is marked with an arrow in the picture above). Quotations were obtained and evaluated in exchange with MHOLA. It was decided to both expand the solar power system and install a solar-powered irrigation pump. This will be supplied with electricity via a second solar power system. It was ensured that both systems would continue to supply electricity even if the public grid failed. With an investment of almost 15,000 €, the project was implemented in July 2022.
Calculated over 15 years, the system will save almost 10 t/ tCO2 annually. With this investment, the schwelle has offset its CO2 emissions for the next 15 years. The operation of the foundation is now climate neutral. The Board of Trustees is convinced that this is an example of good practice. Especially in the case of projects that are not regionally anchored, the direct connection to the partners is a great advantage with regard to the sustainability of the project.