2020 is now behind us. Time to take stock. No, I don’t mean Corona, but my carbon footprint. At some point I had started offsetting my air travel, in the meantime I buy my household of three free. To do that, you can just go to one of the sites Google suggests. Or you can give it three more thoughts and see what’s available.


On what we´re taking a look here:

  • How to calculate my emissions?
  • What am I acutally buying, when I offset?
  • In which ways can be compensated and which projects are particularly useful?
  • Impact investment as an alternative

Note: Some Links forward to pages only available in german, marked with (GER).


How can I calculate my emissions?

According to the latest figures from the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA), the German average is 11.17 t CO2e – this will certainly go down a bit in 2020 thanks to the elimination of vacation flights and significantly reduced mobility. However, in order to find out more about one’s own footprint, it is worthwhile to make a more precise calculation. One recommendation is the calculator of the Federal Envirnoment Agency (UBA, only GER), which on the one hand is very detailed and yet can be completed in no more than 10 minutes, either with exact data or averages. What comes out is an orientation (each calculator will spit out a different total, it depends strongly on the methodology), but a solid orientation.

Results page CO2 calculator Federal Environment Agency


What am I actually buying?

Offsetting or compensation simply means that I pay money for someone else to save or bind the emissions that I have caused. There are various options for how this is implemented and guaranteed.

The most common in the private sector are Verified Emission Reductions (VERs): emission reductions that have been verified by an independent body according to a certain standard. The UBA´s very detailed brochure on voluntary emissions (GER) summarizes all the important questions and answers.

In addition, there is the so-called commitment market, where only emission reductions certified under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) under the Kyoto Protocol are permitted. Individuals can also donate to projects directly through the UN without any intermediary costs. Despite seemingly higher-quality certification, their quality is not without controversy (GER). In addition to traded emission reductions, there are also emission rights in the commitment market. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) is the first cross-border and largest in the world. As the name suggests, it is not about reductions, but about emission rights for the largest emitters, the volume of which is limited and continuously scarce. If a certificate is now purchased and cancelled without the emissions being emitted, defacto one ton less must be emitted. The startup ForTomorrow is based on this principle.

And, of course, there are also offers that are not officially certified or verified. They are not in principle less trustworthy, because as with all seals: It is usually (especially initially) associated with high costs for the projects. I know of several initiatives that simply have their reduction calculations approved by a competent party and offer them directly.


How can offsetting be done and which projects are particularly useful?

ClimatePartner clearly breaks down the options into three areas:

⚡ Green Energy
any form of replacement of fossil or nuclear energy with sustainable energy sources

🌳 Nature Based Solutions
Forest conservation, reforestation, blue carbon, agriculture

🔥 Social Impact
Fuel-efficient cookstoves, Clean drinking water, Small-scale biogas plants

The respective approaches are highly controversial. For example, atmosfair, which is certainly the best-known provider in Germany, does not offer any planting projects.

I would like to highlight two project areas in particular: Forest Conservation and Clean Cookstoves.


Forest Conservation

We are convinced that projects work especially if they are economically viable. This may be the case for most of the emission reduction options mentioned above – but not for forest conservation at present (this is precisely where REDD+ comes in). It is dependent on external financial support. At the same time, existing virgin forests provide many environmental services in addition to their value as CO2 reservoirs, and their destruction is irretrievable once a certain level of destruction is reached. This makes forest protection projects particularly sensible in my eyes.

However, it is not easy to find forest protection projects as a direct compensation offer. I know it for companies (e.g. via ClimatePartner) and otherwise only indirectly: as a donation for rainforest protection projects without specifying an associated offsetting (e.g. NABU (GER), Rainforest Rescue oder Oro Verde (GER)) or else in the form of planting projects designed to reduce pressure on forests (e.g. fairventures).

Fog over landscape in panama

Landscape in Panama


Fuel-efficient cookstoves

Around half of the world’s population cooks at home using solid fuels such as wood, charcoal or agricultural waste. On the one hand, this leads to increasing deforestation in many regions; on the other hand, the WHO estimates that almost 4 million people die each year as a result of exposure to household air pollution. AAccording to computer models, the world’s most common infectious disease, malaria, accounted for 1.8 million deaths in 2004.

Changu Changu Moto cookstove from Ripple Africa in use

The long-term goal, of course, must be to use fuels that burn cleanly and conserve resources, such as biogas or solar energy. An intermediate step is cookstoves that require less energy and are lower in smoke. This is where certification makes double sense, because I keep hearing about projects that fail as soon as the support goes away. The annual spot checks mean that the projects are continuously monitored. Ripple Africa, who work in the north of Malawi, need virtually no money for their clay stoves – it all flows into the community managers and so an extremely high level of stability can be achieved (also UN-certified).



Impact investment as an alternative

An alternative to buying free is the investment of companies that implement reduction projects economically. The advantage here is, on the one hand, that the problem of the failure of the projects after the financial support has dried up is eliminated by the economic action. And on the other hand, of course, that the money was not donated once, but – hopefully – invested profitably. Two examples:

  • Africa GreenTec builds and operates off-grid solar systems in eastern sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, they replace diesel generators and enable SMEs to emerge and scale up. For scaling and further innovation of their solution, the company awards shares in the crowdfunding model. 250 € investment saves about 70 kg CO2e per year with a 20-year guarantee, according to the company (GER). Offsetting 10 t CO2e thus requires an investment of €1,800 – but with CO2 credit for 20 years.
  • enyway works similar to fairventures with fast growing plantations in Indonesia, but offers a participation of 4,25%. 140 € investment compensate one ton each for 5 years. Correspondingly, for 1,400 € one compensates 10 t CO2e for five years.

At betterplace and bettervest, there are many other ways to directly support small and large projects. However, you have to look closely here: At bettervest, for example, you can find the company burn, , which produces energy-efficient cook stoves in Kenya and is also represented in the ClimatePartner portfolio I.e. via a loan to burn it is possible to earn money from the sale of the VERs – but then of course the neutral position is missing, which was sold on.


Author: Kristina Huch

The Panterito Foundation celebrates its anniversary. 10 years or 3,653 days – our panter can now look back on a small history that can be roughly divided into three phases:


The impetus for the foundation was the desire of founder Simon Stürtz to create something lasting and to become actively involved in forest protection in particular. The reforestation project in Panama, which was subsequently financed as the first project of Panterito, has grown over time to 6.5 hectares. Parallel to the forest theme, with Local Soda the first project in the field of water, more precisely: promotion of tap water consumption, was realized.


Reforestation activities in Panama were to be significantly expanded. Due to setbacks in the search for partners on site and for personnel reasons, the preparation for the large-scale project slipped over into a brief phase of inactivity.


In 2019, the foundation became active again with a slightly expanded team and laid the first foundations for the new construction. Two more projects in the forest-section, connected in the program One Crew | One Tree, as well as the funding partnership of the ´Wasserwende´ (water transition) have been added. Currently, we are working on the next step: to start a self-initiated project again after several project sponsorships.

What has not changed in the ten years is the decision to remain a small organization with a small, close-knit team and direct links that does not want to be overfomalized and -bureaucratized. At the same time, this is exactly the reason why things sometimes don’t move as fast as we would like, as volunteer time capacities are simply limited. Corona Year 2020 has meant additional time constraints for our team.

Therefore, what we are giving Panterito first and foremost as a birthday present is that the next annual report should also include a ‘failure report’. The logical next step after joining the Transparent Civil Society Initiative this year, with the aim of identifying (especially structural and procedural) traps, making them transparent and ensuring further development.

And we hope the second birthday present will follow at the beginning of next year – all the groundwork for the project has already been laid, but we have decided not to push it through on schedule, but to give it the time it needs. If you can look back on ten years, you can also wait another month ;O)

Happy birthday, Panterito!

Most of us will buy Christmas presents. And very many of us will do so online during this time. A small detour makes it possible to create added value:

Who goes from the portal WeCanHelp to the respective onlineshop, generates automatically donations for a non-profit organization of her or his choice. More than 6,000 online stores – including most of the big ones – are involved, so there is a high probability that the shop where you want to buy something is listed there. The donation is comparable to the referral bonus if you click on recommendations in a blog. The amount varies depending on the store and the purchase price, but averages out at 6%, which is quite a lot when we think of the sales that come together during the Christmas business. Everyone should decide for themselves when the little detour is worthwhile.

There are no additional costs this way. You do not have to register. I did not have to block any advertising blockers during my test. And there are many organizations to choose from, both the big ones like WWF and Oxfam and most likely the gymnastics club or the local red cross association around your corner.

Just a little warning: The site is unfortunately infinitely ugly, but since you don´t want to stay there…*

– Click on the link above (Panterito is already preselected)
– Find the online store where you want to shop, select it and shop normally. The only condition: the shopping cart must not be filled before, but that is clear…

We would be happy if you remember that when buying your christmas presents and take the small detour!


*Maybe a worthwhile task for a frontend designer in short-time work… Do you know one?

We have joined Transparency Germany´s Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft (initiative Transparent Civil Society) and are now publishing basic information about our work. Why? Because openness is the cornerstone of every good relationship.

Civil society organizations are tax-advantaged if they benefit society, i.e. if they are charitable. In order to maintain this privileged status, reports must be made at regular intervals – but only to the relevant authority or tax office. There is no obligation to make basic information such as funding and activities of the organizations available to the public.

Because this endangers the credibility of NGOs, Transparency Germany launched the Initiative Transparente Zivilgesellschaft in 2010. Signatories of the initiative publish standardized information such as statutes, source and use of funds, activity report, personnel structure and responsible persons – and keep it up-to-date. The requirements are deliberately kept low in order to make the additional effort manageable and also to avoid putting obstacles in the way of small organizations. Larger organizations are explicitly requested to provide more detailed information.

It is important to note that the ITZ logo does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided, as no checks are made, nor does it say anything about whether the funds are being used in accordance with the statutes and in a responsible manner. Rather, it is a sign of openness and willingness to communicate, because the interested public can inform itself and ask questions – if these are not answered and information is corrected if necessary, the logo can be withdrawn.

> Go to our transparency page

Driving forward the energy transition, creating infrastructure as foundation for value creation, fighting the causes of migration – and earning money with it. Africa GreenTec combines all these aspects and invites you to participate in its (social) enterprise through crowdfunding. Panterito followed the call and therefore presents the work and goals of the company.

Core are the Solartainers: Plug & Play solar systems – PV panels with a total of 50 kWp plus battery – in containers. They bring electricity to areas in sub-Saharan Africa that are not connected to a public grid. Africa GreenTec is mainly active in Mali and Niger, plants in Senegal are currently in preparation. These countries are at the lower end of the Human Development Index and have to struggle with political instability and strong influence of terrorist groups. The difficult situation in particular means that a large impact is achieved if the project is successfully implemented.


The cost of purchasing solar power from Africa GreenTec is significantly lower than the cost of diesel and is therefore attractive for everyone. However, the company mainly targets companies, small and medium-sized enterprises, which can be founded or increase their productivity through the new possibilities. The handicraft business, which can now use a welding machine with 3 kW. The Internet café, which benefits from the supplied connection to the worldwide web. These medium-sized businesses create added value, growth and jobs. Africa GreenTec empowers them and thus, in its secondary effect, also helps to fight poverty and migration. The Social Business presents their SDG impact on the website. But it explicitly does not want to be seen as a development aid organization:

“Africa GreenTec does not position itself as a charity organization, but we demand money for our services. This means that in Mali and Niger we sell electricity, Internet access and cooling systems, and people have to pay money for them – a fair price that is significantly lower than what they have to spend on diesel. But we have been living this partnership at eye level, which is often propagated in politics, right from the start.”

Torsten Schreiber, founder and CEO (interview only available in german)

20 plants with 5-7 km of power grids each supply already nearly 25,000 people with electricity almost around the clock. According to the company, its real expertise lies in the planning, control, measurement and operation of the island networks in the extreme regions. Technically, they are far ahead with smart meters that can be configured flexibly by remote access. Africa GreenTec thus offers exactly the know-how and technology that, according to a World Bank study, is needed for the upcoming expansion of off-grid systems. The study states a worldwide demand for 210,000 minigrids – in mid-2019, around 5,500 were either built or in planning in Africa, and the trend is rising rapidly. There are already agreements with Niger for a further 50 plants. Overall, 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still have no access to electricity.

For this coming scaling up capital is needed. From Torsten Schreiber’s story, the crowdfunding approach is obvious (this is how he and his wife Aida came up with the idea for Africa GreenTec → an unforeseen detour and a story worth hearing, for example, here (only available in german)). The campaign started in May. According to the current status, 284 investors have contributed 650,000 €. Still room for increasing and the campaign duration is unlimited. For your investment you receive profit participation rights and thus you participate directly in the growing value of the company and the balance sheet profit. You just have to have a little patience. A sale of the profit participation rights is possible in 2035 at the earliest – unless there occours an exit event.

In order to spread the idea as widely as possible, Africa GreenTec is engaged in very active communication: Torsten Schreiber seems to jump from interview to interview. But also the company’s facebook and linkedIn channels regularly offer interesting background information even beyond the scope of the company’s own projects. Both worth a glance.

pictures: Africa GreenTec

We have all seen them before, the colourful icons of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They catch the eye, concisely designed, belong to the UN sustainability goals – that much is known to most people. Since they are now to be seen also on our project pages, we take a closer look and explain a little bit of the background.

What is behind the term Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs are the framework for the sustainable global development by 2030 that the 195 countries of the United Nations have set themselves. They are recorded in the Agenda 2030, which came into force on 01.01.2016 and runs for 15 years, i.e. until 2030.

The 17 goals are concretized in 169 targets and their progress is monitored and reported annually via 244 defined indicators (complete resolution, from p. 17 on list of goals and tagets).


Why the agreement on the SDGs was an important step

An agreement among 195 countries that is not completely diluted as the lowest common denominator is remarkable per se. The subtitle of the Agenda 2030: “Transforming our world” makes clear that the focus is on great things.

The SDGs actually stand out from their predecessors, e.g. the Millennium Goals, in several respects:

  • For the first time, they encompass not only the social development dimension, but also economic and ecological aspects of equal importance.
  • They apply not only to developing countries but to all states equally.
  • Extensive data is required to make the goals measurable. Prior to this, only existing data from national statistical offices were taken into account. (This does not mean that the required data will be provided.)

The goals are set high and thus a very good starting position. However, after a good third of the set duration, there is the suspicion from various parties that the historical objectives were ultimately only lip service.

What the status of implementation is

“We are making progress. Extreme poverty and child mortality rats are falling. Access to energy and to decent work is rising. (…) But let us be clear: we are far from where we need to be. We are off track”, stated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the first meeting of heads of government following the 2019 decision.

Since the data situation is very mixed, the current overview of the achievement of the goals looks very colourful:


Source: SDG Index (visited 28.07.2020)

The South and East Asian states have made the greatest progess. By contrast, the industrialized countries take a very ambivalent position. On the one hand, they are at the top of the rankings for absolute target achievement with up to 85% (Denmark, closely followed by Sweden). At the same time, consumer behaviour and living standards cause high ecological and economic costs for third countries. The OECD countries are at the bottom of the league table especially when it comes to indicators for climate protection and sustainable consumption. The extent to which the global targets can be achieved will therefore depend largely on them.

The assessment of Germany’s national strategy is very similar, as for example in a background paper of the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development (DE) on the occasion of the next upcoming revision of the German government’s sustainability strategy: The political relevance of sustainability goals is too often subordinated in practice, especially in agricultural, trade and transport policy. And there is a lack of indicators to measure the international impact of these decisions.

The current COVID 19 pandemic has a negative impact on almost all SDGs. The UN Children’s Fund UNICEF, for example, estimates that by the end of the year an additional 6.7 million children under the age of 5 could be affected by acute malnutrition as a result of the pandemic.

In his speech, Antonio Guterres called in the same breath for action now more than ever. The appeal is directed not only at governments, but also explicitly at companies, research and NGOs. In addition to a broad social consensus as the basis for major transformations, the transition to action must be promoted at various levels. For this purpose, for example, Uplink was created, a crowdsourcing platform for innovations on which ideas can be presented across the various thematic areas and global actors can network (direct link to the impact forum of the Trillion Tree Campaign).

Links for further reading

Showing book Bäume für Borneo

I was very happy when our partner Fairventures sent us the book by Sarina Albeck. What a welcome distraction and opportunity to spend a few socially distanced hours on the sunny balcony – and learn a lot in the process.

In her book Sarina approaches the questions about the causes of deforestation in Indonesia. She does this in a very personal way, starting from the feeling that we all know: it’s not good what’s happening – that should change. But what is actually happening? And why? On the one hand she is dealing the forest, but equally with the people. The following passage is freely translated from German:

There is surprisingly little space for people in our utopia. Sometimes they appear on the margins: as losers of land rights conflicts or as henchmen of corporations in the clearing of large forest areas. Or we imagine them as nomadic primitive peoples who have nothing to do with modernity. Rarely do we see them as normal people with needs and opinions, families living in towns or villages, as farmers, security guards, teachers, saleswomen, men on motorcycles, women with an annoying husband, a sick child who has to go to the doctor, people with a desire to consume (…).

Of course, I point to the point. And I am polemizing. Nevertheless, my impression is that we are allowing ourselves a too simple view of a complex topic. A simplification that is not only useless, but damaging.

The answer she presents as a consequence of her considerations revolves around the concept of Fairventures Worldwide. She portrays Johannes Schwegler, who set up the non-profit enterprise that encourages and enables small-scale farmers on the island of Borneo to plant commercial forests. Why not natural rainforest? Because it would ignore the causes.

Where there used to be rainforest, there are now many open spaces in Kalimantan. Theoretically they could be used for agriculture. Occasionally this happens, but without satisfactory results. The main reason for this is the condition of the former forest soils: they are degraded and hardly fertile anymore. (…) The Sengon is the protagonist of this story.

The Sengon is a pioneer tree – a species that grows even under unfavourable conditions and prepares the ground for other plants. In this way, the land regains its value: catch crops such as peanuts or cocoa can be cultivated. And the sengon grows so fast that it can be felled after seven to ten years.

Sarina introduces the people she has met and talks about what she has seen and how she understood it. She simplifies without becoming under-complex and brings together a variety of reality fragments from which, piece by piece, a rough picture emerges.

The 170 loosely printed pages are a very good introduction to the problems of deforestation, rainforest protection and meaningful reforestation. Unfortunately, as far as I know, not translated yet.

Sarina Albeck: Bäume für Borneo. Wie Aufforstung die indigene Bevölkerung schützt und den Klimawandel bekämpft. Oekom 2020, 19,00 €

Based on the largest meta-analysis of the global food system, Hannah Ritchie from Oxford University shows the significance of the individual process steps for the CO2 footprint of 29 products – with exciting results:

  • Regionality plays a subordinate role in the carbon footprint of the food products studied – it only becomes relevant if the food is air-freighted instead of shipped. This is particularly the case for perishable products such as berries, asparagus or green beans.
  • Most of the emissions are due to land use changes (where there is pasture, there is no forest) and farming processes (methane emissions, especially from cattle, but also from rice plants, emissions from fertilizers, manure and agricultural machinery). Seasonal cultivation in the countries of origin is therefore very sensible.
  • The absolute front-runner is beef, with a distinction being made between meat from dairy farming and pure beef herds. The latter generates three times as much CO2 as the meat of dairy cows.
  • For all animal products a considerable amount of emissions falls on animal feed. Of the 29 food products analysed, half with the larger footprint are animal products – and chocolate, coffee, palm, olive oil and rice.
  • Nuts and olive oil are credited with negative emissions for agroforestry development.
  • Processing, transport, retail and packaging currently account for a relatively small proportion of food emissions. But a plant-based diet actually makes a big difference.
  • Milk, eggs, fish, poultry and pork produce only half the emissions compared to red meat, cheese, chocolate and coffee.

For those who want to go into more detail, here are the detailed results of Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser’s analysis of the environmental impacts of agriculture and food production.

The most difficult thing was to bring the seedlings from Chitipa, 100 km away, to Nthalire, reports Madalitso from St. Ignatius Secondary School in Malawi. Because of the heavy rainfalls the road was impassable at times: “There was even a time when we spend a night on the way because the vehicle was stuck. The experience of travelling was not so pleasing.”

Nevertheless, they made it: 1450 seedlings were planted around the school grounds in December: fruit trees such as banana, mango, papaya, guava or avocado – and with blue gum, pine, senna and cassia also ornamental and useful wood. The plants are intended to embellish the school grounds and are also a practical teaching unit for the students. The effects of climate change are increasingly noticeable in sub-Saharan Africa. And Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. The project is an attempt to explain the changes to the pupils and to develop strategies on how to adapt.

St. Ignatius is one of eight schools in Malawi, Zambia and South Africa participating in the project A Tree in Africa. Since all schools have different prerequisites, there are eight different implementations. The coordination is mostly done by the local scout network. The scouts train the students and together with the school staff they take care of planting, care and recycling.

In St. Ignatius there is a Wild Life Club, led by the teachers for geography and agriculture. About 50 pupils from this club took part in the planting campaign. Now it has to be shown how many seedlings will make it through the dry season.

More about the project and the other schools you can find here.

Interview with Markus Wolff from the Remscheid Forest Cooperative on the status quo and perspective of our forest.

In many cases, private forest ownership is divided into small areas through inheritance – in the Bergisches Land on average this is less than two hectares per owner. Profitable management of this land is hardly possible anymore and therefore many forest heirs/owners look to interested buyers as a way out. Then there are, among other things, investors with clear deforestation plans because in NRW up to two hectares can be cut down without the need for a permit.

In order to prevent this and instead manage the forest sustainably, the Remscheid Forest Cooperative was founded 6 years ago. It now cultivates almost exactly 70 hectares of forest and has 232 members – more recently the Panterito Foundation.

Markus Wolff is the founder and chairman of the board of the cooperative – and at the same time he is the Head of the Remscheid City Forestry Office, because only a union makes it possible for the cooperative to do what private owners surrender to. He spoke to Kristina from Panterito about the condition and future of the forest.

Mr. Wolff, there has been a lot of media coverage about drought, forest fires, and the effects of climate change on the forest. Do you also feel this in your forest regions?

Of course. There is no forest in Germany or in Europe, which is not currently visibly or invisibly affected by climate change and is therefore also stressed.

What are the typical signs?

Decreased vitality of the trees. They are just weakened. This expresses itself in being more susceptible to harmful organisms, they lose their leaves early or, if they are a spruce or other conifers, they quickly dry and then become brown.

Although we are still relatively well off. The Bergisches Land is one of the main areas of damage in NRW. Last week I did a tour with a school class in our forest and I noticed that we are still in a comparatively good to very good position due to our forest management.

What are you doing differently?

We do not do anything differently in the forest cooperative to what we do in our urban forest – both are so-called “naturally” cultivated. These are criteria of the ANW, the Association for Natural Forestry, which, among other things, aims to rejuvenate the forest early, thereby bringing in more structure, more diversity, more mix and therefore the trees are simply more vital and resistant.

What are the biggest challenges facing the cooperative now? On the one hand, of course, adaptation to climate change, but on the other hand, there is also the question of how profitability can be achieved – or is that not the focus at all?

Of course, profitability is in a sense a black zero. In view of the fall in price of wood, this is a challenge, no question. But there are indications that the forest is increasingly coming into focus as a result of this change in overall political awareness and that we can open up new markets. That we can achieve yields for CO2 storage, for example, or that we will be rewarded for ecosystem services in the future and for many other things where it is now being felt that we simply cannot work without or with less forest.

It was not until the end of September at the “National Forest Summit” that the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, pledged additional funds worth millions to repair the damage. It is now crucial that the urgently needed funds are used in a well-focused manner. If funds are linked to measures for ecosystem services instead of as a flat rate, they promote the conversion of industrial forests into healthy ecosystems in the long term, explains the 12-point paper from NABU, for example.