Climate Neutrality Expeditions

Published on 22.04.2011 - Climate Neutral Pole 2 Pole

J.E. Nilson is known for his climate neutrality expeditions

J.E. Nilson is known for his climate neutrality expeditions

© Wilson's website

Being involved with the Zero Emission Princess Elisabeth Station (Utseinen, Sor Rondane, Antarctica), we had to know more of course about what Johan Ernst Nilson calls the 'Climate Neutrality'.

To understand better what this concept ('Climate Neutrality') means in terms of expedition, we had no better choice than reproducing what his website comments about. Here are some excerpts : 

First of all, J.E.Nilson emphasizes the fact that the 'Climate Neutrality' means not adding any greenhouse gases.

Three steps are essential when one has to determine what is and what isn't 'climate neutral' :

  • Determining the greenhouse gas output according to international standards, the GHG Protocol.
  • Develop a strategy to reduce emissions.
  • Offset the remaining emissions.

Then he goes with asking the right questions :

Is it sustainable to go on an expedition? Wouldn’t it be better to stay at home?

The way I see it, I have an important message to communicate. My mission is to raise awareness and empower all of us to choose sustainable solutions. I know from previous expeditions that people listen carefully and that both individuals and corporations are inspired to act more sustainably themselves in the future.

The most important thing for me now is to make sure that the expedition is executed in the best possible way for nature, people and wildlife. I work with a sustainability company called Respect. They are overseeing my expedition and advising me on how to make it as climate neutral as possible.

Is flying sustainable?

Yes, when there are no other options that are fossil free or more fuel efficient and there is a well thought-out purpose with the flight. I offset carbon for the flights I can’t avoid. During the expedition I will fly to the poles, it is my only option.

How are you making your expedition climate neutral?

I do as much as possible in order to limit my climate impact during the entire expedition. It is a matter of little choices every day. I always choose the most climate neutral means of travel, I use green electricity and I plan for as many meetings as possible to be on the phone or via e-mail instead of having to travel. I document the carbon emissions of the expedition. When there are no exact figures, I use standard estimates that I receive from Respect. Respect will also calculate the climate impact of the expedition and provide carbon offsets for it.

What is carbon offsetting?

Carbon offsetting means ”neutralizing” your climate impact. I contribute by supporting UN certified climate projects, CDM or Clean Development Mechanism. These projects generate so called Certified Emissions Reductions, or CERs, and as a result the emissions of carbon dioxide of this particular project are reduced by a certain amount of tons. For example a project that is enabled by this extra funding can make a transition from fossil based to bio based power production. These projects are carried out in accordance with the Kyoto protocol.

Isn’t carbon offsetting just a way to pay off a guilty conscience?

Carbon offsetting is important. I try to limit my own climate impact as much as possible. But that is not enough! The issue of climate change is a global matter and I want to contribute more – that is why I want to take responsibility for the emissions that I can’t avoid and offset for that remaining carbon. I will be doing double offsetting, which means I will offset for double the amount of my carbon emissions. That way I make an extra contribution to the work against climate change.

More information available at Respect Europe’s website.

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