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Sustainability at Web Summit with Schneider Electric

Web Summit is a global technology conference that brings together the people and companies redefining the tech industry. The conference has committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 13: Climate Action. Learn more about what they are doing in 2019 to achieve these aspirations.

What is Web Summit doing to address its carbon footprint?

Web Summit has partnered with Schneider Electric to help advance its goal of reducing carbon impact and becoming a more sustainable conference. After the event, sustainability experts from Schneider Electric will measure the event’s carbon footprint by gathering data on actual event energy consumption and attendee travel. Once the carbon footprint of the event has been identified, Web Summit will use renewable energy attribute certificates (EACs) and verified carbon offsets to address the event’s emissions.

Learn more about these two strategies below.

Schneider Electric is a great partner for Web Summit. As a company, Schneider Electric is also committed to decarbonization, for itself and its customers and partners, and it provides innovative services and solutions to develop emission reduction and renewable energy procurement strategies. The company is leading the future of sustainable energy, recently announcing it will reach its own carbon neutral goal by 2025, five years earlier than expected.

What are Energy Attribute Certificates and how do they work?

Even in today’s day and age, it is difficult for organizations to directly source renewable electricity. Instead, a free market mechanism known as energy attribute certificates (EAC) were developed to help in the acquisition, tracking, and trading of renewable electricity globally. An EAC is like the birth certificate for renewable energy. Each certificate verifies that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable electricity was generated and added to the grid from a green power source—even if that source was not collocated with the consumer of the renewable electricity.

Once electrons join the electricity grid, it is impossible to trace their source of origin. The only way for an energy consumer to know that they are directly receiving 100% renewable electricity is if they have onsite renewable energy generation. While onsite generation is growing rapidly, it still makes up only a fraction of total energy generation and is highly dependent upon very specific conditions for success.

Instead, consumers can use EACs. When EACs are paired in a 1-to-1 ratio with grid-sourced electricity (which comes from a variety of sources, including coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and renewable energy), they enable buyers to claim that they are using renewable electricity. As a result, EACs underlie every renewable energy transaction—whether that transition is the installation of onsite solar panels, procurement of renewable energy from a large-scale project, or the separate acquisition of EACs to address carbon emissions, as Web Summit is doing. 

EACs have been used for decades by thousands of organizations worldwide and are accepted and validated by major non-governmental organizations including the The Climate Group, the World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

What are carbon offsets and how do they work?

Even the most efficient organizations struggle to fully eliminate all emissions, particularly those emissions that are outside the direct control of the organization. The market mechanism that has developed to address these emissions are called verified emission reductions, better known as carbon offsets.

Carbon offsets trade unavoidable emissions for reductions made elsewhere. For example, today, there are few (if any) viable alternatives to air travel—except not flying at all. Web Summit depends on air travel to recruit its speakers and attendees; these unavoidable emissions are inherent to an event of this scale and size. The accepted way for Web Summit to address these emissions is to reduce or eliminate emissions elsewhere with carbon offsets.

Offsets represent one metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) that has been eliminated or sequestered from the atmosphere. A variety of approaches may be used to do this, ranging from planting trees (carbon sequestration) to capturing and utilizing methane gas produced from organic waste or agricultural activities (carbon elimination). Organizations purchase offsets in a 1:1 ratio to counterbalance their emissions-generating activity, with a direct result of reducing their carbon footprint. Carbon offsets are rigorously tracked and verified by highly regarded registries, such as the Verified Carbon Standard, meaning that organizations and consumers alike can rest assured that when they purchase quality offsets, they are getting the most credible of clean technologies.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more about EACs and carbon offsets, check out this eBook and this blog.

To learn more about sustainability at Web Summit 2019, click here.