Inside COMATCH

CO₂ Offsetting with atmosfair -

  • Dr. Jan Schächtele
  • September 4, 2020

COMATCH is growing and so is its carbon footprint. Emissions from airplane travel have the biggest impact: Consulting is a people business, creating personal relationships through face to face meetings is crucial, but time is also a valuable good.

We encourage our employees to use trips in a smart way by meeting multiple contacts when traveling. Train rides within Germany have become more attractive as the journey time for important routes like Berlin-Munich has shortened. Still, reducing the overall number of plane trips is hard. As a first step, we decided to work with atmosfair to compensate CO₂ emissions. I had the chance to share some thoughts about this in a short interview together with atmosfair.

What is atmosfair and how does CO₂ compensation work?

atmosfair: atmosfair is an independent non-profit organization based in Berlin. The project was developed in 2002 as a research project at the German Federal Environment Ministry. Even in situations when it is not possible to avoid CO₂ emissions, at least measures should be taken in order to reduce their impact on the climate. Through offsetting, individuals or companies can make voluntary climate contributions to finance emission-saving projects that save the same amount of emissions elsewhere. The process is simple: COMATCH gave us data on how many business trips by plane their employees took in the second quarter of 2019, the exact amount and distances. Based on this information, we calculated the amount of CO₂ created by COMATCH’s business flights over the whole year: roughly 100 tons. The money that COMATCH pays to offset this amount will support a project of their choosing which will directly cause a reduction of CO₂ emissions.

What project is COMATCH supporting?

Jan: We chose a project in Rwanda: Currently many Rwandan households cook with traditional three stone fires that demand a huge amount of firewood. Atmosfair invests in efficient ovens that need 80% less energy and are manufactured locally. As a result, families save money which they can invest in education and food. The ovens also help reduce deforestation which threatens animals and leads to tensions between communities. Local partners for atmosfair are SaferRwanda and the Rwanda Women Network, as well as UNHCR Rwanda and ENEDOM -The Energie Domestique SARL.

Why has COMATCH decided to take action?

Jan: When Christoph and I founded COMATCH almost 5 years ago, we established a regular meeting to define our company values and to discuss what those values mean in day to day working life. This has continued today even though we have more than 130 employees in four different countries. “Treating resources responsibly” was one of our values from the start, but it was only when a group of very engaged employees teamed up from different departments and formed the Green Initiative that the topic of sustainability was filled with life. The awareness increases in the company, but also among the consultants in our network. Now, step by step, the company is becoming more eco-conscious. For example, the Green Initiative implemented recycling systems in our offices, we changed our energy provider and switched from paper towels to hand dryers. Our UK team will soon take part in the Bike2Work scheme. This new cooperation with atmosfair won’t be the last step in our journey to sustainability.

What do you suggest to companies that want to reduce their business trips by plane?

atmosfair: Many of the measures COMATCH has taken already point in the right direction: We recommend increasing the efficiency of your meetings and looking into whether or not meetings that require travel could be replaced with video conferences. If you really have to fly, simply switching to Economy Class or to a more efficient airline can save a lot. Change your travel policy to implement this change. The company should not just look at the lowest ticket price, but also consider factors like CO₂ emissions of the business trip, productive time while traveling, incentives for taking a more sustainable option, assessing the real need of a face-to-face meeting, etc. Tracking the impact of all these measures and sharing them in the company can create positive competition, encouraging teams to surpass what they have achieved so far. A combination of individual commitment and support from senior management is a perfect mix. And if flying is the only option, choose an offsetting project that has both environmental and social impact.