Are we powerless in the battle against global warming? Are the efforts of climate protection projects being undermined by individual polluters? These questions may be justified according to recent studies on global warming and its consequences. However, for ALPLA, this is a strong motivation to take opportunities and take Action.
Here’s the good news: ALPLA’s sites in Vorarlberg are climate-neutral within five years of the foundation of the ‘Klimaneutralitätsbündnis 2025’ (climate neutrality alliance) initiative. The original goal was to achieve this target by 2025 at the latest. However, numerous measures to reduce CO2 emissions at our sites and provide support for climate protection projects have quickly produced results. We have saved 13,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. We consequently received the certificate of climate neutrality for our Vorarlberg sites in Hard, Fußach and Nüziders in 2018.
The majority of ALPLA’s ecological footprint comes from power consumption and business travel. Not much more can be done in this regard. However, we have numerous other activities in place to help conserve valuable resources. For example, our trainees regularly check the compressed air lines for leaks to prevent energy losses. Replacement of light sources with low-consumption LED technology also helps.
Climate protection alliance 2025: an idea grows
At the beginning of 2013, ten companies from Vorarlberg/Austria came together to form the Klimaneutralitätsbündnis 2025 (climate neutrality alliance) initiative to make a voluntary contribution to climate protection. ALPLA was one of the founding members.
Since then, all of the participating companies have been measuring their CO2 emissions, or carbon footprint, annually. Based on the data determined, measures are developed to reduce the footprint. Unavoidable emissions can be neutralised with the support of high-quality climate protection projects. The calculation method is validated according to ISO 14064-1 (greenhouse gas compensation and verification).
The Klimaneutralitätsbündnis 2025 alliance has now grown well beyond the borders of Vorarlberg. I met with project manager Anna Maierhofer and asked her about the future of the alliance.
Linda: What difference does an individual climate-neutral company make? Is it not just a drop in the ocean in a global sense?
Anna: I can understand that people often feel that small steps are not enough to solve the bigger issue. However, I feel that every small measure takes us one step further. I would even go further than that and say that it begins with each of us as private individuals. Seen in this light, a company with as many employees as ALPLA has a huge potential to raise awareness of the issue. In addition to this, we can also set an example for other companies. In this way, the actions of a company are multiplied, and the overall effect is greater.
Linda: How effective do you think emission allowance trading is?
Anna: Essentially, it was a good idea to introduce a cap for large companies with very high CO2 emissions. The certificates introduced a monetary value for emissions, with the goal of motivating companies to improve their efficiency. However, only a small number of companies are affected by this regulation. By joining the Klimaneutralitätsbündnis 2025 alliance, members voluntarily commit to reducing their emissions. However, here, unavoidable emissions are not offset through European emissions trading, rather by supporting international climate protection Projects.
Linda: What climate protection projects are the members of the alliance supporting?
Anna: We only support climate protection projects of a very high quality. In addition to CO2 savings, our projects also have considerable additional benefits for many industries, such as improved living and health conditions for the people in local areas, education, jobs, establishment of facilities and many more. It is important to us to create real benefit with our actions and projects. Consequently, in cooperation with Caritas Vorarlberg and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, we launched our own climate protection project in Ethiopia in 2017. Over the next five years, we are supporting a total of 5,000 households through five measures. This includes distribution of efficient cooking stoves, solar-powered light sources, solar-powered drinking water treatment (WADI from HELIOZ), vegetable seedlings and tree planting for independent use as well as reforestation of fallow areas with native tree species. Not only can we directly influence the quality of the project, but we also gain insight into the systematics. Where are the obstacles? What can be implemented efficiently? How can people be involved in the process? For the implementation, it was important that all founding members, in particular Günther Lehner, spoke in favour of it. This project has now been very well received by our alliance Partners.
Linda: The Klimaneutralitätsbündnis alliance began in 2015 on a local basis with just a few members. Since then, how has it evolved and what are the long-term goals of the initiative?
Anna: Klimaneutralitätsbündnis 2025 has around 130 members as of the end of 2018. We expect their role model effect to also have an impact on others, which will enable us to continue to grow rapidly. Most of the member companies currently come from Western Austria, with twenty from South Tyrol. We are constantly striving to expand the reach of our initiative.
Linda: Finally: are we powerless in the battle against global warming or is there hope for future generations?
Anna: I’m firmly convinced that a crisis always presents opportunities. In this case, there is an opportunity for new technologies and for new values. Sustainability should not just be a buzzword, but should be lived and breathed in many areas, including in our private lives. I believe that human beings are intelligent enough to stick together and to overcome the challenges we are facing. Although there are some changes that cannot be reversed, even more significant changes can be contained.