SPREP delegates go green and offset their carbon emission!

Committed to "walking the talk", the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme is supporting a local project in Samoa that will have positive benefits at the local and global levels.

The Samoa Conservation Society (SCS) in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa is leading a national carbon offset project called "Carbon footprint". The project, a voluntary initiative was open to participation for delegates attending the Twenty-eighth SPREP Meeting held last month in Samoa, from across the Pacific island region.

Delegates who travelled to Apia for the meeting as well as the Director General of SPREP, Mr. Kosi Latu, contributed to this project by offsetting their carbon footprint either by planting a native tree or paying the local communities from Falealili District, who are also partners in this project, to plant native trees on the delegates' behalf.

"SPREP is looking at ideas on how to incorporate the carbon footprint concept into our normal work processes and what we can do as an organisation to offset our carbon footprint which also demonstrates our commitment to climate change actions, " said Mr Kosi Latu, Director General of SPREP.

"We're really pleased that all of the SPREP Member country delegates showed their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint by signing on to this initiative using their travel details to and from Samoa."

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The Samoa Conservation Society booth at the Twenty-eighth SPREP Meeting. Photo: SPREP

Did you know a return trip from Apia to Australia creates around 2,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide per passenger which is equivalent to driving a vehicle for approximately one year? Forests and the ocean are carbon sinks as they absorb carbon, with trees being made up of approximately 50% carbon hence the planting of native trees.

It was estimated that for the 27 voluntary pledges made by SPREP meeting delegates and staff, a total of approximately 45,600 kilograms (45.6 tonnes) of carbon dioxide was generated from the flights to Apia and back to their respective countries. To offset the carbon produced, 200 native trees will be planted at the national park. These trees will absorb over their lifetime around 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

"We are very happy that we are able to do this initiative with SPREP, to not only raise awareness on the carbon emissions generated from plane travel, but to also allow people to do something to offset, or compensate for their emissions. We hope we can continue this initiative in the future with SPREP staff to offset SPREP's institutional footprint," said Mr. James Atherton, President of the Samoa Conservation Society.

The carbon footprint generated by each delegate can be calculated and converted into the number of trees that need to be planted to absorb the equivalent amount of carbon generated by their travel. On average, one tree absorbs approximately 230 kilograms of carbon in an average lifetime and the project is able to use established methodologies to work out the number of trees that need to be planted to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted for the travel of each individual delegate.

Delegates were given the opportunity to plant the native trees themselves at the O Le Pupu'e National Park or they paid a fee to SCS to plant the equivalent number of trees for them.

Since the project started in 2016, 150 seasonal workers from Falealili District who have travelled to and from New Zealand in the past year have planted around 2,000 native trees to offset their carbon footprint.

There are three major components of the SCS Carbon footprint Project. These are the offsetting carbon emissions through awareness programmes, work to restore the rainforests of Samoa by planting native tree and promoting improvements in community livelihoods.

The Samoa carbon offset project is a partnership between SCS, MNRE, village communities and the Poutasi Development Trust, with funding support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Small Grants Programme. For more information on the Samoa C-offsets project visit the SCS's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/conservesamoa/
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