A low-carbon Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly, merry and usually extravagant but instead of a white Christmas, perhaps a ‘green Christmas’ would be the best way to finish what has been a very positive year for the environment. Here are a few ways in which you can lower your carbon footprint this festive season and truly enjoy a guilt-free holiday.

1. Reduce

With forecasts suggesting that this is likely to be the warmest Christmas for many decades, consider adjusting heating controls to reflect the mild weather. As many homes fill up with family and friends, as well as having an oven on for hours, houses will be warmer than usual and each 1° of overheating is equivalent to an 8% increase in heating costs.

2. Recycle

Once the presents have been opened and the Christmas meal cooked and eaten, the waste paper in the UK alone could reach all the way to the moon! We now recycle more than we throw away in the UK and by keeping that up and recycling everything we can, it dramatically reduces the Christmas carbon footprint. For the UK, find out what you can recycle here.

3. Re-use

When the festivities begin to wind down and it’s time to dispose of the tree, different methods of disposal have a big impact on its carbon footprint. Carbon Trust estimates suggests that with real trees the footprint can be reduced by as much as 80% by diverting old trees from landfill. Artificial trees have a larger carbon footprint than real ones and need to be re-used for 10 Christmases to keep the environmental impact lower than real ones.

Christmas celebrations can be all too short but it can be a great time to form lasting habits and encourage broader change. With friends and family around, your actions are more likely to get noticed by others and influence positive change. The simplest thing you can do to reduce the overall environmental impact over the holidays, is share your Christmas with as many family and friends as possible and from everyone at CO2balance, we wish you all happiness and good health.

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When a man smiles….

It’s not just the eyes that can tell you about a man. You also can tell a lot from a man’s smile. From a shy smile to a genuine smile to a laughing smile, you can decode what his smile says about what he is feeling deep down his heart.

Mr William Omondi lives in Rai village a few kilometres from Obwolo Mamboleo in Kisumu East in the western region in Kenya. He is a widower whose main source of income is his two dairy cows. His wife passed leaving him behind with six children.

In our usual community rounds we visited him to find out how he is doing being one of our stove beneficiaries and with a smile Omondi says, “when my wife passed on, I vowed to raise our children with the care they deserved. At some point, I realised that cooking on the three stone stove was not easy as it was consuming a lot of firewood and as a man finding time to go to the forest ever now and then was not easy. Buying wood was also expensive for me. Using the three stone stove emitted a lot a lot of smoke something I never knew my wife was going through ever since. But by good luck the Carbon Zero stoves project came at that time and changed everything for me. I would say that women being custodians of kitchens go through a lot especially if they don’t have the right kind of stove thus its good for men to get their wives proper energy efficient stoves to give them some rest.”

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Mr. Omondi acknowledges having a carbon zero stove and expresses his gratitude for how the stove has been of benefit to him. He says that since carbon zero stove uses less fuel, he has managed to save a lot on firewood then he uses the saved money to pay his daughters school fees that was clearing primary school this year. Also, his cattle need his attention and quality time to find napier grass and water for them. Since the stove retains a lot of heat and cooks very fast, he can either leave the longer cooking foods to boil while he is away in the fields taking care of his diary cows.
He says that since he started using carbon zero stove, his life has really improved because he spends most of his time feeding cattle of which at the end of the day, it produces milk that he sells to sustain his family.

Nancy Dec Milking

According to him, bringing up six children single handedly hasn’t been an easy job but carbon zero stove has been of great help to him. When the kids come from school, they find food ready on the stove and because it retains heat for a long time, the food keeps warm till served while he is away in the fields.

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Mr. Omondi is now a happy man and leads a happy family. They use carbon zero stove for all their cooking in the home. He is so grateful for getting a chance to be a beneficiary of this stove.

Nancy Dec cooking

Compiled by; Nancy Machasio, Christine Atria and Moses Maina

Visit to the Lango Boreholes – Community Engagement in the Projects

Early this month, I had a pleasant visit to the boreholes in the surrounding districts of Lira which include Kole, Alebtong, Dokolo and Otuke in which co2balance rehabilitated 41 boreoholes in 2013 and since then has been doing annual maintenance and reactive repairs.

It was great to see how the communities have embraced these projects and have become engaged  in sanitation activities by following the WASH guidelines. They have ensured that the boreholes are properly fenced, kept animals away from the water source, not constructed any sanitary facilities near the boreholes,  dug soak pits and avoided pooling near the borehole. They also hold meetings regularly to address the concerns about the borehole like collection of ‘borehole user fee’, which is a government policy required to enable them do minor repairs to the borehole like greasing, replacing nuts and bolts among others.

This they do with a passion and this has gone a long way to make them embrace and own the projects.

Listening to their stories on how the boreholes has changed their lives was really inspiring.

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Mama Franco – Caretaker of Kulu Franco borehole

When my son died, this borehole was named after him but when it broke down, I felt like my son’s memory also went silent. In 2013, we received information that there was a group interested in fixing it and the news warmed my heart. This borehole has been of so much help to me and my family plus other households. We no longer travel long distances to fetch water and this has given me and the other women some spare time to develop income generating projects as a group. We have also had less cases of waterborne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea etc, which was common when we fetched water from the open stream located 2km from my homestead.Thank you co2balance ……….Mama Franco.

The time is now…

Discussions continue in Paris this week at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) as politicians from all over the world begin their final push to reach a new global accord for action on climate change. Negotiations are due to conclude on Friday but could roll on in to the weekend with some sleepless nights as many key disagreements are yet to be settled.

Though major steps forward have been made, it is becoming clear that the agreement in Paris will only form part of the solution and also, how businesses will be one of the most influential actors on climate change. Just this week there has been calls from many sectors for businesses to aim carbon neutrality by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5°C.

Now, with the new international agreement on the horizon and wide calls for global price on carbon, businesses are beginning to see value-at-stake from action on climate change. Changing public perceptions, increased energy costs and changing weather patterns, all represent risks to businesses and should be treated as such.  By measuring carbon footprints and investing both internally in energy efficiency and externally in climate change mitigation to offset carbon emissions that cannot be reduced, there are multiple benefits to be realised.

Last week ICROA, of which CO2balance are members, launched a series of videos from just a few businesses that have recognised the benefits of offsetting as part of broader carbon management strategy, setting out the clear business case. Endorsed by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it will feature at this year’s COP to highlight offsetting as a vital part of the solution set to meet global emission reduction goals.

By supporting carbon-offset projects, businesses are investing in the local environment, communities and benefits that extend far beyond the carbon reductions. We now look forward to the conclusion of this week’s negotiations and hope for a strong, binding agreement that sets a clear path to a low carbon future.

Malawi Clean Water Carbon Credits: First of its kind

Since 2013, CO2balance have been developing a number of borehole rehabilitation projects in Malawi under the Gold Standard voluntary carbon offset scheme in a unique collaboration with Concern Universal. After 2 years, we are glad to announce that 4 VPAs in the Dowa and Kasungu districts have recently issued carbon credits for the first time. This is a major achievement for everyone that has been involved in the projects, in particular our staff in the UK who have worked tirelessly to see these projects through to issuance.

The issuance of these unique VPAs should provide the springboard needed to drive these projects forward for their entire lifetimes. Congratulations to all on this including Concern Universal. A tremendous achievement.

 

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Conservation for the Future

Kereita forest forms the Southern part of greater Aberdare Range. The forest covers a total area of 4,722 hectares, with 80% being indigenous forest, 16% of exotic forest plantation mainly cypress and 4% grassland. Valleys and ridges are some of the characteristics that best describe the forest. This is a very serene and pristine area and is a designated birding site. It is very serene and pristine.

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Kenya Forest service (KFS) is actively involved in forest management and conservation. It regulates forest resource use such as exotic tree management, grazing in the forest and wood collection.

For the last four years Carbon Zero has been implementing an improved cook stove project in this area with about 8,000 energy efficient cook stoves distributed to the local community members. Carbon Zero  is proud for being part of the greater initiatives to conserve the forest and save it from anthropogenic activities i.e. deforestation for wood fuel. The project has led to immense reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and indoor air pollution in the project area and in Kenya as a whole considering that the majority of Kenya’s population (68%) is dependent on biomass as their primary source of energy for cooking.

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Yesterday Carbon Zero team was delighted to host the Managing Director; Mark Simpson from UK in the project area doing random visits to check on the project beneficiaries. It was a nice experience meeting Carbon Zero cook stove beneficiaries and listening to them share their testimonies regarding the stove. All the visited beneficiaries were glad and praised the stove especially on its high level of efficiency and fuel consumption. Many indicated that Carbon Zero stoves use less wood thus loggers have less demand so less trees are being cut down. And over time this has increased vegetation cover in Kereita forest which was previously threatened by loggers for firewood as the demand of wood fuel remained high since people were using three stone open fires that consume more wood.

Some families indicated that typical stoves (three stone cook stoves) release clouds of toxic smoke into the home as there is no ‘chimney’ or exhaust tube something that Carbon Zero stoves have been of great help as they have drastically reduced particulates, which means that the families using them have better health.

Kereita 3

As Carbon Zero the use of improved cook stoves has been on our top agenda in the campaign to reduce pressure on the existing natural forests. We pride contributing in saving one of Kenya’s natural water towers (the Aberdare Ranges) through 8000 energy efficient cook stoves distributed to the local community in the project area. For the past four years there is a traceable impact chain in wood harvest trends in this region. The use of Carbon Zero Stoves has greatly contributed to reduced wood harvest intervals therefore giving Kereita forest vegetation a chance to flourish. In addition economic and social benefits are realized as wood expenses are considerably reduced, not forgetting other risks that come with wood collecting like rape and violence on women and young girls.

CO2balance Issues 4 Ugandan Borehole VPAs under The Gold Standard

Since 2013, CO2balance has been developing a number of borehole rehabilitation projects in Uganda under the Gold Standard voluntary carbon offset scheme. After almost 2 years, we are glad to announce that 4 VPAs in the Lango sub-region (Dokolo, Alebtong and Otuke Districts) have recently issued carbon credits for the first time. This is a major achievement for everyone that has been involved in the projects, in particular our staff in Uganda who have worked extensively with the communities and other local stakeholders to garner support and ensure that there is participation at all levels. Although this may seem straightforward, in practice there are a plethora of challenges that need to be negotiated especially when operating in such remote and poverty stricken environments.
Between 1987 and 2007, the Lango sub-region was subject to countless human rights atrocities by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) which tore apart the fabric of the society. It is estimated that over 20,000 children were abducted by the LRA many of whom were forced to commit horrific acts of violence. Around 1 million people fled their homes and ended up moving to temporary camps for the internally displaced (IDPs). The prolonged period of conflict has inevitably led to the deterioration of institutions and basic services. All the challenges related to rebuilding a war-torn region remain, from stabilising the economy and restoring infrastructure to reintegrating LRA escapees and addressing human rights abuses.

Memorial Site for the 2004 LRA Massacre in Otuke District

Memorial Site for the 2004 LRA Massacre in Otuke District

 

Building a biogas plant for a local school in Barilonyo

Building a biogas plant for a local school in Barlonyo

Over the last 3 years, CO2balance has rehabilitated 41 boreholes in the Lango sub-region  which supply clean water to over 20,000 people who previously relied on open water sources such as lakes and ponds. As local governments lack sufficient funds for water infrastructure, these projects are playing a small but important role in the region’s post conflict development.

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CO2balance realises that community participation is crucial to the long term success of its projects

 

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One of CO2balance’s rehabilitated boreholes in the Lango sub-region