WRI commits to Zero Net Emissions of CO2 by 2005

The World Resources Institute (WRI), an international research organisation focusing on issues of the environment and sustainability, has committed to reduce its own emissions of carbon dioxide "to zero or better" by 2005.

The decision for a zero net emissions commitment was made following a vote by WRI staff.

“Although we do not have smokestacks or large industrial machinery, our office electrical use, travel, commuting, paper use, and other activities, all lead to emissions of CO2, the primary agent of human-induced climate change. By going to zero net emissions, we hope to demonstrate that significant and early action on climate change is technically and economically feasible. To help ourselves and others to track our progress, we will annually measure and publicly report our emissions, starting in October, 2000”, says WRI.

The Institute is starting on the emissions reductions options that can be controlled in its own offices, including the installation of energy efficient lighting and equipment. These efforts include:

  • Ensuring that office equipment is turned off each night (a computer and monitor can each use 200 watts per hour; by turning them off each night, about 2.5 tons of CO2 emissions can be prevented annually, and $150 saved each year).
  • Reducing paper use (WRI used about 3,750 reams of paper last year; – a 10 percent cut would save over $1,300 and reduce the related CO2 emissions by about 4 tons).

Looking further ahead, WRI plans to replace some travel with videoconferencing (for short trips by air, for example, roughly 40kg, or 88 pounds, of CO2 are emitted for each 100 miles of travel by one person).

Further afield, it plans to work on options like urban forestry projects, and assist in making electricity from renewable and low-carbon sources available in the Washington, DC, area.

Having taken the first step toward of completing a preliminary estimate of 1990 and current CO2 emissions, it intends to reduce emissions to 7 percent below its 1990 levels by October, 2000. This milestone reflects the reduction commitment that the United States would assume if it ratifies the Kyoto Protocol.

As part of the measurement and reporting efforts WRI will develop guidelines to help similar, small- to medium-sized organisations and businesses measure their own emissions, and make them available on the Web.

1990 carbon dioxide emissions were estimated at over 1,500 tons (equivalent to burning about 170,000 gallons of gasoline). WRI’s current emissions are about 1,663 tons (equivalent to burning about 188,000 gallons of gasoline.) It estimates the affect of going to zero net emissions as equivalent to keeping 300 cars off the road each year, or saving more than 680 tons of coal annually.

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