Offsetting the carbon footprint of the TEDxUniversityofLuxembourg 2020!


In October 2020, the University of Luxembourg organized the 3rd edition of TEDxUniversityofLuxembourg. Many things were different this time compared to previous years: First, the event was organized in the context of TED’s COUNTDOWN initiative, a global movement launched by TED and Future Stewards to tackle the climate crisis. Secondly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held as a virtual-only event with pre-recorded talks and performances as well as live Q&A sessions with the speakers, and thirdly, it stretched over five evenings, quite a marathon effort for everyone involved.

You may watch the talks here:

Since the COUNTDOWN initiative is about “a worldwide movement to find ways to shift, more rapidly, to a world with net zero greenhouse emissions and tackle the climate crisis”, we thought it would only be natural to also try to reduce the impact of our event by offsetting our carbon footprint. Put simply, a carbon offset is a way to compensate for the emissions that you produce by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases elsewhere.  

We decided to offset, to the extent possible, the carbon footprint of our event by planting trees in the rain forests of Costa Rica, with the help of the Luxembourgish NGO The organization works with locals in Costa Rica on the reforestation of the La Gamba biological corridor (COBIGA) and assures that 100% of the donations go into the project.

Rainforest a.s.b.l. has existed since 2013. Enthusiasm for the tropics was the reason for its foundation and the reforestation project of the University of Vienna through the LaGamba Tropical Station in the southwest of Costa Rica was just the right thing to get them started. The project implemented scientifically supported corridor planting with rare native tree species, grown in nurseries by locals. It provided employment and training for locals, it produced proven biodiversity enhancements, and it contributed to CO2 neutralisation and agroforest development. All this was done in a socially competent way. The project was based on solid academic foundations with international researchers and was yet small enough to be manageable.

Rather than calculating how much carbon emissions our online event must have caused, which is inherently very difficult to do, we simply took all the money that was left on our budget, namely 2.052,00€, to finance the planting of a total of 114 trees.