Dis/Enable the sustainable Cancun? PDF Print E-mail
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We all ask ourselves if there is some point in the next high level Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP).

As we have seen the results and the lack of big resolutions after the end of COP15, we all doubt about the affluence of the coming big and arduous event in Cancun, Mexico next year. Do we need a huge offline conference, which by all chance will end up with a remarkable footprint? Not a moral but a Carbon one?

Being open to the future, maybe we can try to have a different perspective to COP16.

On one hand a main goal of the Mexican authorities is to ensure that a large amount of the energy used during the Conference comes from renewable sources. It aims to minimize as possible the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. But on the other hand they haven’t thought about the unavoidable volume of waste gases by the increased flight traffic. “Regarding transportation, delegations of participating countries will be provided with hybrid vehicles for their transfers during the Conference,” have written the experts on the website of the conference. However, I don’t imagine how heads of state, ministers and high-level officials will quit using their limos. The other thing is that the hybrid vehicles by itself don’t necessarily mean 100% environmental-friendly.

The Mexican government has implemented a special hotel assessment program in Cancun aimed at enhancing their sustainable operation. Through the program dubbed Environmental Leadership for Competitiveness implemented by SEMARNAT, hotels will set eco-efficiency projects in order to reduce the use of raw materials, energy and water during the Conference. The aim of this projects It is expected to avoid the consumption of approximately 200,000 m³ of water and the release of 4,000 tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere.

If you read that paragraph you will be impressed. Then you check the list and see around 20 fully-booked hotels and NO REAL information what exactly has been improved in them, so that they become more sustainable. NOT EVEN A LINE and if you go to the official website of Semarnat you find only few things in English, which is totally unacceptable for an international company, working on a big project with a global impact.

Participants attending COP16/CMP6 will be able to access online and through the booths located at the Conference venue a carbon footprint calculator to measure emissions associated to their air and ground transportation, lodging and meals. This calculation will allow users to mitigate their respective emissions by opting for one of the projects listed in the voluntary Mexican market or those associated to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). But as some of you have already figured it out while hanging out for hours online, the internet has a carbon footprint as well. And it grows exponentially with the ever increasing demands of energy for the soaring online industry. The costs of maintaining and serving the billions of web pages on the Internet are rising and has swollen carbon emissions by 10-percent each year, to a level that’s overtaking the air travel industry. Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research, write Jonathan Leake and Richard Woods in their article Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches.

According to Bill St. Arnaud, the director of the NGO CANARIE, the personal computers account for 50% of the internet’s energy consumption, while “server farms” (i.e. 100′s of gigantic buildings that span acres of land, housing 1000′s of servers that store the bulk of the net’s info) are responsible for the other half. These server farms account for the near doubling of CO2 production by net users: as more energy is required to run them, so too is required to keep them from overheating.

So, what do you think? What can we do when there is no absolute good?

 

The original article could be found in The GEF Forum on Green Entrepreneurship.

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