Project incentivises private CO2 reduction through employers

The ultimate goal of the Off4Firms innovation project is to scale up efforts in individual companies to global corporations as well as SMEs across Europe. For this a new business unit is being created in the Climate-KIC affiliate partner South Pole Carbon Asset Management.

Households account for about 30% of final energy consumption and about 40% of CO2 emissions in the European Union and Switzerland (Eurostat, 2009). Significant improvements in Europe’s greenhouse gas balance could be obtained by investing in existing and new energy efficiency measures at household level. According to a scenario analysis commissioned by the Swiss Energy Agency (BfE, Switzerland Prognos, 2006), the total energy consumption of the Swiss residential sector can be reduced by up to 5 GJ per capita until 2020, currently amounting to about 35 GJ per capita, with similar values for the EU member states. Since we find similar figures worldwide, scaling of successful measures to global level bears immense potential in reducing the world’s energy consumption and emissions.


Immense potential in the residential sector

Such a measure is currently being developed and implemented by the European Climate-KIC innovation project ‘Off4Firms: Employer-led CO2 and energy reductions by employees’. Under the lead of ETH Zurich and in partnership with Wageningen University and South Pole Carbon Asset Management Off4Firms aims to guide companies towards implementing sensible CO2 emission or energy consumption reduction measures in employees’ households.


Ample portfolio of successful measures

In the recent past, companies like the global re-insurer SwissRe and other national and international firms voluntarily started offering incentives to their employees to improve their households’ CO2 balances. These incentives include for example the subsidisation of the purchase of energy efficient household appliances, energy efficient cars or public transport subscriptions, and better insulation for employee homes. Off4Firms will develop a broad and ample portfolio of possible CO2 and energy reduction measures and a ‘tool kit’ for selecting from this portfolio of ‘optimal’ measures with respect to the characteristics of a firm and in particular, its employees. Best-practice CO2 and energy reduction measures will be determined from analyzing existing corporate programmes such as those at SwissRe.

The ultimate goal is to scale up the outcome from Off4Firms to all large corporations as well as SMEs across Europe and beyond. To ensure the scaling-up process for firms in different regions, of different sizes and across different industries, it will be embedded in a new business unit entitled ‘Climate Action for Corporations’ that is being created within the company South Pole Carbon. The unit will benefit from its large expertise and network and in addition, will guarantee the leverage of synergies between the different CO2 and energy reduction measures.


South Pole Carbon and the global market

 “We are particularly fascinated by Climate-KIC’s great innovation power. We meet network partners and learn about cutting edge technologies and extremely interesting research results for which market potentials need to be explored. Off4Firms and other Climate-KIC innovation projects allow medium-sized enterprises like us to further innovations and explore whether markets exist for these innovations; at the same time, Climate-KIC sponsorship helps us to take the necessary entrepreneurial risk” says Maximilian Horster from South Pole Carbon.

The Switzerland-based South Pole Carbon Asset Management is a global climate solution company specialized in reducing greenhouse gases and developing carbon strategies. With ten offices around the globe and operations in over 20 countries, the company enables the implementation and operation of high-quality emission-reduction projects that address climate change and sustainable development. 

“As the world’s leading carbon offset company South Pole Carbon continuously brings innovations to market – like the climate credit card, which automatically offsets the carbon footprint of my shopping, this is absolutely innovative! In our European network of partners South Pole Carbon is a great ‘market-enabler’” says Reto Largo, Director of Climate-KIC Switzerland. South Pole Carbon is Climate-KIC’s first choice in offsetting greenhouse gases caused by operations and made global Climate-KIC operations carbon neutral.


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