FAQ

Climate change

What does climate change mean?

The global climate has always shown fluctuations. Since the beginning of industrialisation, however, the composition of the atmosphere has changed due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases by humans. This increases the natural greenhouse effect and leads to global warming. This noticeable change in the climate has a significant impact on humans and nature.

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What are the causes of climate change?

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global warming of the last 50 years is clearly attributable to humans. Due to emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, i.e. oil, gas and coal, as well as human land use, the natural greenhouse effect is intensified.

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What is the anthropogenic greenhouse effect?

The anthropogenic greenhouse effect is due to greenhouse gases emitted by humans, which amplify the natural greenhouse effect. This leads to global warming. This noticeable change in the climate has a significant impact on people and nature.

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What is global warming?

"Global warming" means that the average temperature everywhere on earth increases for a longer period of time. However, global warming does not necessarily mean that this happens evenly all over the world. Some parts of the earth may warm up more, others more slowly, and fluctuations cannot be ruled out.

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The effects of climate change

Climate change destabilises the Earth’s temperature equilibrium and has far-reaching effects on human beings and the environment. A distinction is made between direct and indirect effects of climate change. During the course of global warming, the energy balance and thus the temperature of the earth change, due to the increased concentration of greenhouse gases, which has a significant impact on humans and the environment.

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What are greenhouse gases?

Greenhouse gases are the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that produce the greenhouse effect. Most greenhouse gases can have either a natural or an anthropogenic (man-made) source.

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What is the greenhouse effect?

The greenhouse effect is basically a natural process that has a significant impact on the temperature on Earth. However, since the beginning of industrialisation, the presence of long-lasting greenhouse gases has been increasing dramatically.

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What is CO₂ and where does it come from?

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is a colourless and odourless gas that is a natural component of our air and makes up part of the carbon cycle.

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What are CO2 equivalents?

A CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is a unit of measurement that is used to standardise the climate effects of various greenhouse gases.

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What is climate?

For scientists, the term “climate” encompasses weather patterns over a long period. Although this term is somewhat abstract, its impact is very real. What is the difference between weather and climate? And what are the climate factors and drivers?

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Climate policy and climate protection

What is sustainability?

The ecological definition of sustainability originated with the Brundtland Report in 1987, which describes sustainable development as one that satisfies the needs of the present without adversely affecting the conditions for future generations.

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What ist meant by Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are common, universal goals for member states of the United Nations to transform the world into a fairer, more prosperous and peaceful society until 2030. They were adopted in September 2015 as successors to the Millennium Goals.

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What are climate offset projects?

Climate offset projects support the use of renewable energy, realise energy efficiency measures or reduce methane emissions. This can be achieved through technological advances, the filtering of greenhouse gases from power plants and production facilities, but also through afforestation and other suitable measures in agriculture.

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What standards do our climate offset projects meet?

myclimate applies only the strictest independent quality standards when choosing and designing its own carbon offset projects. International projects are primarily certified according to Gold Standard and Plan Vivo, and selected projects also according to VCS (incl. CCB and/or SD-VISta). Swiss projects are certified according to the guidelines of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN)/Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) or the Swiss VER (Voluntary Emission Reductions) guidelines.

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What meaningful measures are available for counteracting climate change as an individual?

Everyone can make a contribution to climate protection! In line with the motto "Avoid, reduce and compensate", we can take responsibility for our own ecological footprints, i.e. for our CO2 emissions. The most common everyday causes of harmful emissions are travel with cars or aeroplanes, heating and electricity usage and our consumption behaviour.

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What does Decarbonisation mean?

Greenhouse gas emissions produced by people and the resulting global temperature increase are a key cause of climate change. Through decarbonisation – the switch from fossil fuels to carbon-free and renewable energy sources – states and companies worldwide want to reduce and avoid CO2 emissions. However, current global climate targets are still not ambitious enough to effectively stem climate change.

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What is the Paris Climate Agreement?

At the COP21 climate conference in Paris in 2015, the “Paris Climate Agreement” – also known as the “Paris Treaty” or the “Paris Agreement” – was adopted. There were 197 signatories to the agreement, with almost all of them ratifying the treaty. The agreement is a legally binding international treaty that forms part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Its aim is to limit global warming, preferably to 1.5°C and significantly below 2°C, compared to the pre-industrial level of 1750.

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What is the Kyoto Protocol?

On 11 December, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, the additional protocol to the organisation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted. The aim was to slow down climate change by means of climate protection measures. The Kyoto Protocol included clear regulations on how greenhouse gases were to be reduced. It came into force in 2005 and was replaced by the Paris Agreement in 2021.

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What was Decided at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow?

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) took place from 31 October to 12 November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. As at the previous Climate Change COPs, the focus was on limiting global warming and the measures needed to do so. As well as the important commitment to phase out the burning of coal, regulations were decided on for Article 6, which is relevant to carbon offset projects and the CO₂ markets.

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What is the climate protection plan 2050?

The Climate Protection Plan 2050 was adopted by the Federal Government in 2016. With this plan, Germany, as one of the world's most important industrialised countries, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 % by 2050 compared to 1990 and thus contribute its share to meeting the global target of the Paris Agreement. Within the plan, separate medium-term reduction targets are planned for the respective sectors (e.g. transport, energy or industry).

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What happens at a climate conference?

At a climate conference, politicians from many different countries come together to work out solutions and reach agreements to limit the increase in global warming. In 1992, the first climate conference took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the participation of the member states of the United Nations.

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What is meant by emissions trading?

Emissions trading is one of the Kyoto mechanisms and aims to regulate and limit the emissions of energy-intensive factories or companies in a market-based and sustainable manner. It was introduced in the European Union in January 2005. The aim is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and at the same time to steer towards climate-friendly technologies in order to protect the climate. A fundamental distinction is made between the mandatory emissions trading market and the voluntary emissions trading market.

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What is the circular economy?

The circular economy refers to a systemic approach to longer and more efficient use of resources and thus to avoidance of waste and pollution. Resources are kept in the material cycle for as long as possible with the highest possible value. This means that fewer primary raw materials are consumed, and the more efficient production processes lead to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The approach of the circular economy is not the same as that of recycling. A distinction is drawn between the technical and the biological cycles.

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What are Nature-based Solutions (NbS)?

Achieving the Paris 1.5°C target is no longer possible through mere reduction of man-made emissions and capturing and storing them using technological solutions. For this reason, nature-based solutions are increasingly coming to the fore, rooted in the protection, regeneration and sustainable management of ecosystems. Nature-based solutions are not only one of the most powerful tools to fight climate change, but they also offer a variety of other important advantages for people and nature, such as an unspoiled environment and the protection of biodiversity.

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Emissions & footprint

What is an ecological footprint?

The ecological footprint was developed by Mathis Wackernagel and William Rees in the mid-1990s and it has since been implemented as an indicator for sustainability. It represents the demands made on the ecosystem and natural resources.

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What is a digital carbon footprint?

The digital transformation has brought many benefits that also have a positive impact on the fight against climate change and reduce CO₂ emissions. However, the production, use and data transfer of digital devices causes more CO₂ emissions than one might expect. These emissions are summarised under the terms “digital CO₂ footprint” or “digital carbon footprint”.

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What does "net zero emissions" mean?

“Net zero emission” by 2030 or 2050 is being demanded by the climate movement triggered by Greta Thunberg. So what exactly does “net zero emission” mean?

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What are Science-Based Targets (SBT)?

SBTs are a way for companies to define emissions reduction targets. Unlike traditional “potential-based targets”, SBTs follow a “top-down” approach: they focus on the quantity of emissions that needs to be reduced in order to meet the targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, limiting global warming to 1.5°C. In addition, the Net-Zero Standard, launched in October 2021, gives companies a science-based framework for defining ambitious and effective climate targets with a long-term goal of achieving net-zero emissions.

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What are "negative emissions"?

To reach "zero net emissions” and limit global warming to 1.5°C, it is necessary to remove and permanently store CO₂ from the atmosphere. This is called Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). As it is the opposite of emissions, these practices or technologies are often described as achieving "negative emissions", "sinks" or "removals". There is a direct link between radically reducing CO₂ emissions and CDR: The earlier net zero emissions are achieved, the less CDR is necessary. Therefore, the projected amount of required CDR over the 21st century varies from 100 to 1,000 Gt CO₂.

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What is meant by CO₂ budget?

A CO₂ budget determines how much CO₂ a country or person is allowed to emit in order to achieve the global climate protection goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. In Germany, German citizens cause an average of 10 tonnes of CO₂ per capita and year. In terms of the climate protection target, however, only 1 tonne of CO₂ per person and year is acceptable.

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What is sufficiency?

Sufficiency, often also referred to as frugality, starts with consumer behaviour. Based on the principle of "less is more", the general consumption of resources should be reduced to a level that can be reasonably sustained in the future, as the current distribution ratios for goods and resources are not only ecologically dangerous, but also internationally questionable.

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What are emission scenarios, climate models and climate projections?

Climate models are used together with emission scenarios to calculate the probable future climate, so-called climate projections. The climate models describe how the earth's climate functions, while the emission scenarios describe the impact of humans on the environment. If the climate models are combined with the emission scenarios, it is possible to predict with a certain amount of probability how the climate will be in the future.

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What is meant by flight shame?

In connection with the topics of climate change and climate protection, there is also repeated talk of "flight shame". The term "flight shame" refers to the feeling of air travellers who are aware of the climate-damaging consequences of their journey, but still fly. Thus, they feel ashamed of their flight. At the same time, we also talk about the trend to consciously decide against air travel in order to actively reduce one's personal CO₂ footprint.

 

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Carbon-​Offset

What are CO₂ certificates?

CO₂ certificates represent the amount of emissions that are offset. A certificate corresponds to one ton of greenhouse gases.

 

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What is Carbon Insetting?

Insetting refers to a company offsetting its emissions through a carbon offset project within its own value chain. In contrast to a typical carbon offset project, emissions are avoided, reduced or sequestered upstream or downstream within the company's own value chain.

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Why should I offset my emissions?

Climate change caused by humans is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. True to myclimate’s motto “do your best, offset the rest”, it’s best to avoid creating CO₂emissions in the first place. However, due to the fact that the most important thing for the climate is to reduce the amount of emissions worldwide, unavoidable emissions can also be offset.

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How does my offsetting contribute to climate protection?

The myclimate climate protection projects reduce emissions by replacing fossil energy sources with renewable energy or by promoting energy-efficient technologies. High-quality climate protection projects also contribute to social, ecological and economic development in their respective regions.

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How much of my offsetting will go to the projects?

CO₂ offsetting only achieves something if the payments are actually used directly for climate protection projects. As a non-profit foundation, myclimate guarantees that at least 80 percent of offsetting payments will be used directly in climate protection projects. The foundation requires the remaining amount (maximum 20 percent) to cover administration and internal costs.

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Can I be sure that my money really reduces the promised amount of CO₂?

myclimate invests exclusively in projects that deliver measurable and long-term success. Only emissions reductions that have actually been realised and can be proven over a longer contract term of 7 to 14 years are counted in energy projects. Offsetting payments are normally paid out to the supported projects once reductions are realised. The contribution amount depends on the volume of the project’s greenhouse gas reduction. Forestry projects are slightly different because they have a longer timeline of 30 to 50 years.

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Can I deduct my donation/offsetting from my taxes?

myclimate and myclimate Germany are charitable foundations and are therefore tax-exempt in Switzerland and Germany. All offset payments and donations to myclimate are tax-deductible.

 

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What is the CO2 tax?

The CO₂ tax is also known as the CO₂ price or CO₂ pricing and, like any other tax, is set individually by a state. In Sweden, the CO₂ tax has been in place since 1991 and currently stands at 114 euros per tonne of CO₂ emitted. In Switzerland, Denmark, Finland and Slovenia, a CO₂ tax has also been standard for many years. In Germany, the CO₂ tax will be introduced from 2021 with an introductory price of 25 euros and will increase gradually. By taxing CO₂ emissions, the countries are pursuing the goal of making CO₂ emissions more expensive in order to achieve a reduction in CO₂ emissions.

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What makes myclimate's CO2 calculators unique?

On the myclimate website, users have seven CO2 emission calculators for different activities at their disposal. Not only can the emissions from air travel, car journeys and cruise trips be calculated and offset, but users can also determine their own CO2 footprint, calculate the corporate carbon footprint of companies, calculate events and draw up the CO2 balance of their own household. In addition, it is possible to support carbon offset projects and the valuable educational programmes of myclimate with free donations or to directly select a project of your choice for support.

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What is the future of voluntary carbon offsetting and “climate neutrality”?

The resolutions of the climate conference – COP26 – in Glasgow have brought greater clarity about implementation of the Paris Agreement. The importance of international cooperation in climate protection as well as the significance of market mechanisms and the voluntary contributions of business and private individuals were not only recognised, but strengthened through the robust rules planned. myclimate is monitoring the introduction and implementation of these rules, along with the development of the structures they require, and is actively involved in shaping these within the scope of its own possibilities. At the same time, myclimate is working with partners and customers so it can continue to make the greatest impact for climate protection globally and locally.

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