Leading by Example on Going Carbon-Neutral

ADB generates renewable energy from a 690kW rooftop solar plant in its Manila headquarters.
ADB generates renewable energy from a 690kW rooftop solar plant in its Manila headquarters.

By Virender K. Duggal

Achieving carbon neutrality at ADB demonstrates that we back up our words with concrete actions.

ADB is committed to helping its developing member countries reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and build climate resilience as part of our overall strategy to address climate change in Asia and the Pacific.

In late 2015, we announced that we would double our climate financing to $6 billion per year by 2020. ADB was the first multilateral development bank to make such a promise, and created the momentum for others to follow.

Out of the $6 billion, $4 billion will be allocated to fund mitigation projects in sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, and $2 billion for adaptation in urban resilience, agriculture, and land use. The goal is to provide our developing member countries with the financial and technical support to curb GHG emissions and achieve the ambitions articulated in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

But, what are we doing ourselves to reduce our emissions? And why does this matter?

Our emission reduction efforts started with a resource management program following the so-called 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, and recycle) for resource conservation. We now apply the same principle to water conservation, including wastewater treatment before discharge and rainwater harvesting.

[tweet="ADB emissions reduction efforts follow 3 Rs approach #zerocarbon @ADBClimate" text="ADB emissions reduction efforts follow 3 Rs approach"]

We have also committed to improving energy management and using renewable energy. Since 2011, part of our electricity consumption has been supplied by the 690kW rooftop solar plant installed at our Manila headquarters. This is complemented by electricity purchased from a geothermal plant, something we started back in 2014, making it 100% renewable.    

The switch to renewable energy, and efficient energy management had a significant impact: a staggering 85% reduction in power consumption-related GHG emissions, from 9,569 tons of CO2 equivalent in 2013 to 1,433 tons in 2014.

In 2014, we completed our first GHG emissions inventory covering direct and indirect emissions, verified by a third party according to ISO 14064 standards, to establish a baseline for assessing future performance.

As our carbon footprint is also affected by the GHG emissions we generate outside of our headquarters, like international travel for business missions, we now encourage videoconferencing and combining several missions into one trip to reduce business travel.

Since it is not possible to avoid all of GHG emissions emanating from our facilities, the rest needs to be offset to accomplish carbon neutrality.  This entails purchasing Certified Emission Reductions (CERs, or more generally carbon credits) generated by mitigation actions such as renewable energy projects registered as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

[tweet="Frankfurt 2016 was ADB’s first carbon-neutral annual meeting #ADBFrankfurt #zerocarbon @ADBClimate" text="Frankfurt 2016 was ADB’s first carbon-neutral annual meeting"]

In 2016, we tested this approach to deliver our first carbon-neutral Annual Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. ADB prioritized public transport and car-pooling, sourced clean electricity, and used local food and beverage suppliers.

ADB then bought 8,000 CERs from the 50.4-megawatt Tata Wind Farm in Maharashtra, India, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development purchased an additional 1,496 CERs. The Yokohama Waterworks Bureau did the same a year later when they purchased 3,000 CERs at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Japan.

To lead by example, we achieved carbon neutrality for ADB headquarters’ 2016 operations, which resulted in aggregate emissions of 11,936 tons of CO2 equivalent. To offset, we purchased 12,000 CERs from the Tata Wind Farm – making 2016 our first carbon-neutral year.

Achieving carbon neutrality at ADB may be a small contribution in terms of global GHG emissions. But it is well aligned with our strategic priority to address climate change and is a clear demonstration that we back up our words with concrete actions. It clearly highlights the benefits and the necessity of collective efforts by all stakeholders to address the climate threats.   

We will sustain our drive for carbon neutrality. In this vein, we will continue to look out for all possible opportunities to reduce GHG emissions and pursue top-level mitigation projects to purchase carbon credits for achieving zero net emissions from all of our facilities.