The ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising, floods, heatwaves and forest fires are increasing, our pristine natural world is disappearing and species are becoming extinct. This picture of the consequences of climate change is a desperate one and there is great fear that the environment will be destroyed for generations to come. However, I believe that there is still hope. As people and as businesses, we can work together to save the planet and our beautiful nature.
Tackling climate change demands that we all act. At the same time, climate action can be a factor that brings people and businesses together, and also generate new innovations with a lower carbon footprint. Major companies are now demanding that their partners and suppliers take more action to minimise their carbon emissions before they are prepared to work with them. Every company can do its best to prevent climate change on its own scale. Action should not and cannot be ranked in order of importance or placed on the same terms; the most important thing is that everyone examines their own personal and business activities and does all that is within their scope.
Messeforum’s carbon neutral stands are one example of an act that benefits the climate. On a global scale, they are just a tiny step, but in the world of trade fairs they are already a giant leap to benefit the climate we all share. If only all the trade fair stands in the world were carbon neutral…
The first year with carbon neutral stands in production
To us as builders of trade fair stands and exhibition booths, a carbon neutral stand is a very important thing. We have already come a long way but there is still a long road ahead. We can always do even more and do it even better. One step to get further is our participation in the UN Global Compact initiative in order to deepen our goals and prioritize our activities for a more sustainable world.
But back to the CO2-neutral stands in concrete: The emissions caused by stands started nagging away at us several years ago. In 2019, we decided to do something about it and started drawing up Messeforum’s climate strategy. The goal of a C02-neutral stand was there right from the start. In developing our climate strategy, our concept of a carbon neutral stand and investigating our own carbon footprint, we worked with Sari Siitonen from Clonet Oy, specialised in carbon footprint calculation and responsible business, such that in autumn 2020, we were able to unveil Messeforum’s carbon neutral stand for the first time.
The unfortunate situation of the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to global trade fairs, however, forcing us to put concrete fair projects on hold from spring 2020 until autumn 2021. Since then until today, we have already produced more than fourtyfive carbon neutral stands form single stands to joint pavilions in Europa and in Asia.
How do we achieve carbon neutrality?
The CO2 emissions of Messeforum’s carbon neutral stand are 0 grammes. I told this to a friend of mine and she asked how on earth this could be possible.
Of course, it wouldn’t be possible without reliable means of offsetting emissions. Building a stand at a fair is highly intensive in terms of materials and travel, and as long as construction materials aren’t radically changing to produce lower emissions, material choices alone will simply not be enough to achieve carbon neutrality. The core of our business is creating stylish, high-quality stands for our customers and being there on the spot at the fair to deal with things on their behalf. We can’t compromise on that. Otherwise we would lose the foundation of our business.
So what do we do? First we do everything we absolutely can ourselves in terms of choice of materials, reuse, recycling and thinking of new solutions. We choose low-emission materials and renewable energy sources wherever these are available. Of course we sort and recycle our waste. We rationalise our own travel and the logistics linked to our stands and we encourage climate-friendly alternatives. We ask our partners to commit to our goals as well.
But this isn’t enough on its own. To achieve the last bit, we inescapably need to offset our emissions. The term “offsetting” is sometimes associated with negative connotations. I think that’s wrong. Offsetting is a very good way of cutting emissions when you have run out of things you can actually do yourself. It is better to offset and thus achieve results than not to do anything.
Effective emission mitigation via EU Emission trading system actually prevents emissions
What matters is how you offset. Offsetting emissions has become a business, and there are also methods available where the impact of offsetting is not necessarily always reliable, measurable or the best it could be. We believe we have found a way of offsetting that genuinely has an impact, as we have decided on the EU’s emissions trading mechanism. This is an officially monitored system which ensures that our offsetting leads to real reductions in emissions.
Our partner is CO2Esto, which buys emission allowances from the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS). Every time we mitigate our emissions using CO2Esto’s emissions calculator, an actor in the EU’s emissions trading mechanism has to reduce an equivalent amount of their own emissions.
The number of emission allowances is limited and when allowances are purchased out from the market, the price of remaining allowances also rises. Companies that produce emissions will have to think more profitably about developing new low-emission technologies, for example. The emissions trading mechanism involves about 11,000 actors that produce the highest emissions in Europe, including in the energy sector, industry and aviation, all of whom are bound by the EU’s Directive, so the impacts are already genuinely significant.
Compensating through the EU Emission trading system is thus in fact not compensation of emissions, but much more: it is actual and proven emission preventing.
Here at Messeforum, we are delighted to be able to play our small part in preventing climate change. At trade fairs we do everything for our customers and that is what we are also doing here; our customers always get the stand they ordered as a carbon neutral stand without having to specifically request this or needing to pay extra for it. A Co2-neutral stand is the new normal in all Messeforum’s trade fair projects.
Join us in taking a little big step towards a more emission-free world and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch our video and see what managing director Arto Varanki has to say about our carbon neutral stand.
Blogger: Virpi Hopeasaari, Communications and Marketing Director of Messeforum Oy