Beekeeping instead of logging

The Bank has been climate neutral in Germany since 2015. It currently achieves this by continuously reducing its CO2 emissions and then offsetting the still unavoidable remainder with certificates from various projects. One of these projects is in Zambia.

Beekeeping instead of logging – this is one of the prospects that the Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) offers to Zambian farmers. At the same time, it benefits the forests of this African country, which help to protect against climate change. “We carefully check in advance which projects we buy CO2 compensation certificates from,” says Rainer Posselt, Environmental and Energy Manager at Commerzbank. “In the case of the LCFP forest conservation project, we were particularly impressed by the approach of actively involving local people.” In December last year, Commerzbank therefore purchased 10,000 certificates from the LCFP, thereby offsetting 10,000 tonnes of CO2 – because the corresponding forest area in Zambia will continue to exist.

Deforestation for charcoal production

Forests are among the most important CO2 sinks in the world; they are, so to speak, “climate protectors” by nature. But in many countries, deforestation is still an everyday occurrence. In Zambia, for example, many rural households have no electricity. Therefore, people often use charcoal for heating and cooking. The price of this is deforestation, which further fuels climate change. And the effects of this are also being felt in Zambia: prolonged droughts stunt the harvest, while heavy rain washes away the soil. For many farmers, charcoal production is a source of income that they cannot give up without the availability of alternatives.

This is exactly where the LCFP gets involved: protecting forests must be made worthwhile for the local people. To this end, the project works closely with local communities to develop initiatives that create different, and at the same time sustainable, sources of income. And this is precisely where the bees come in, as honey production is a business model that is in harmony with forest conservation. In addition, the LCFP attaches importance to involving the population and letting them take responsibility for environmental protection themselves. The project trains local staff and offers them permanent employment.

Leopards are part of Zambia's diverse wildlife.
Leopards are part of Zambia's diverse wildlife. Copyright: Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans

CO2 compensation certificates finance forest conservation project

Using this approach, the LCFP, which is regularly audited according to the globally-recognised Verified Carbon Standard, impresses on several fronts. “The protected area comprises almost one million hectares of forest, which will continue to be available as a CO2 sink,” explains Posselt. “At the same time, the habitat of wildlife is preserved. In Zambia, this includes endangered species such as leopards, lions and elephants.” The long-term measures also secure the income of the local population as well as the development of the communities. Access to clean drinking water, medical care and education are being continuously expanded.

“We are of course happy to support projects like the LCFP by purchasing CO2 certificates,” says Rainer Posselt. “But we are aware that offsetting is only ever the second choice when it comes to climate protection. It’s more important to reduce emissions.” This is why Commerzbank has been setting its own climate targets for years. As a result, it reduced its carbon footprint in Germany by 70% between 2007 and 2018. With its current climate target, it aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by a further 15% by 2025 compared to 2018.

Rainer Posselt
Copyright: Sabine Lucas
Rainer Posselt

Environmental and Energy Manager

A graduate in business administration, Rainer Posselt has worked at Commerzbank head office since 1991. Following positions in the areas of controlling and project work, he held several organisational management roles from 1996 onwards. He been Environmental Officer at Commerzbank since 2007. In 2015 the energy management system was added to his area of responsibilities.

CO2 certificates

Commerzbank’s motto is “Reduce CO2 before offsetting”. CO2 certificates represent the quantity of emissions that are offset. One certificate corresponds to one tonne of greenhouse gases. After the certificates are purchased, they are retired, so they cannot be bought or traded again. Their retirement is documented in official registers.

Commerzbank project selection

Commerzbank has defined clear criteria to select the projects for the compensation of currently unavoidable CO2 emissions. They refer to the quality of the certificates (e.g. Verified Carbon Standard), the technologies used to avoid CO2 emissions and the countries in which the projects are located. Criteria

Forest conservation project in Zambia

Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Access to clean water, better medical care and education: the communities also benefit from the forest protection project. Copyright: Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
The forest provides a habitat for many animals and plants. Copyright: Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Trees and forests store the climate-damaging carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Copyright: Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
Biocarbon Partners/Chloé Evans
The bank at your side