For the past 19 years, our foundation’s mission has focused primarily on climate change mitigation activities. We helped thousands of individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to support high-quality carbon reduction projects. These efforts reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the lives of local communities. We are proud to have supported over 260 carbon offset projects across 30 countries and 43 states while mitigating over 47 billion pounds of emissions. These efforts constitute significant carbon reductions equivalent to alleviating emissions from over four million homes in the United States or sequestering carbon from over 24 million acres of US forest ((EPA), 2023) for one year. Examples of these high-quality carbon offset projects supported by our foundation include:
- Protecting almost 750,000 acres of forest in the Amazon of Brazil.
- Providing clean electricity to local communities across the United States via landfill gas to energy projects that also capture harmful methane gas from being released into the atmosphere.
- Implementing clean cookstoves in rural communities in Kenya that mitigate emissions from previous stoves while improving air quality and health conditions for women and children.
Yet even with these significant measures, our experts recognize that some impacts of climate change are unavoidable. It is pertinent to utilize Environment Next’s resources to prepare for the inevitable effects of climate change. This acknowledgment led Environment Next to move away from carbon offsets and expand the strategic focus of our mission to support climate-friendly projects and ideas in the realm of climate change adaptation. This means supporting ideas that respond to climate impacts. According to the World Wildlife Fund, climate change adaption means “altering our behavior, systems, and—in some cases—ways of life to protect our families, our economies, and the environment in which we live from the impacts of climate change. (Fund, n.d.)”
Some examples of climate change adaptation projects include utilizing nature-based solutions (NBS) that use natural features and processes to combat climate change. According to FEMA, “Nature-based solutions are sustainable planning, design, environmental management and engineering practices that weave natural features or processes into the built environment to promote adaptation and resilience.” The positive results of these climate change adaptation projects in the NBS realm include reducing flood risk, protecting coastal property, restoring and protecting wetlands, stabilizing shorelines, reducing urban heat, and sometimes adding recreational space. (FEMA, n.d.)
An example of climate change adaption approaches utilizing nature-based solutions at the national level is Mexico creating designated water reserves in over a 1/3 of its river basins. This effort covers over 123 million acres consisting of wetlands and protected areas. These reserves can help maintain sufficient downstream flows and safeguard the water resources for over 40 million people. (Great examples of how countries are adapting to climate change , n.d.).
In the Netherlands, to adapt to rising water and dangerous flooding issues, instead of building higher levees, the country has adopted a strategy titled “Room for the River.” The concept recognizes that Netherlands must learn to live with the water instead of constantly trying to battle it. The approach provides water more space to propagate out when floods occur, which will reduce damage. Examples of these efforts include widening rivers, raising bridges, digging flood channels, and adding river catchment areas. Now the Rhine River can safely carry 1,000 cubic meters of water per second more than it could before. (Great examples of how countries are adapting to climate change , n.d.).
Yet, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change it is only by combined efforts of climate change adaptation and mitigation that we can significantly reduce climate change risks. (Canada, n.d.) Recognizing this, Environment Next will also continue to explore climate change mitigation projects and ideas beyond those that generate carbon offsets. Please stay tuned for further examples of both concepts in future Environment Next blogs.