April 22, 2022

Investing in our planet: CHAI purchases its first carbon offsets

To mark Earth Day 2022, CHAI announces its first set of investments in carbon offsets

CHAI has purchased its first set of carbon offsets in an important step to reduce our global carbon footprint. This follows CHAI’s announcement in 2021 of the formation and our membership in the Climate Accountability in Development (CAD), a collective dedicated to tracking and reducing its carbon emissions.

Why focus on climate?

Poor climate conditions trigger and worsen infectious diseases, affecting mostly low-and middle-income countries where health systems are already fragile and inequities high. Extreme heat, natural disasters, social unrest, and insufficient food supplies can also damage the health and wellbeing of those we serve.

CHAI is dedicated to reducing our carbon impact and working with others to reduce global carbon waste. We have begun to respond to climate change explicitly and systematically at program, leadership, and day-to-day operational levels. As such, offsets are included in all new proposal budgets and some of our donors have already begun to support this work.

While we consider how our individual and organizational actions contribute to climate change every day, Earth Day provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made, recognize how much work must be done to improve the health of the planet we call home and renew our commitment to a more sustainable future.

For this reason, we are marking Earth Day by sharing the details of our first offsets. Carbon offsets are investments in projects which help reduce or eliminate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to rising global temperatures, to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.

How CHAI selected offset projects to support

CHAI selected a portfolio of offsets supported by a nonprofit called Gold Standard, which evaluates the quality of offset projects. We chose a range of offsets, some of which have a wider impact, and others that benefit two of our CHAI partner countries, Panama and Laos. Our intention was to include some offsets that will have a more immediate positive impact, as well as some that are more expensive but will have a long-lasting impact through carbon capture.

CHAI’s first offset purchases

Planting biodiverse forests in Panama
In Panama, tropical rainforests have been significantly depleted by the timber trade, reducing the variety of trees in the environment. We are supporting a project called CO2OL Tropical Mix. It introduces sustainable timber production and reforests land that has been degraded with a fresh mix of native trees and teak. Native animals and plants benefit from the restoration of a more natural habitat. It also enriches the soil, improves water filtration, and helps mitigate climate change. Learn more.

Providing water purifiers in Laos
Most water sources in Laos have E. coli, which can lead to diarrhea and other diseases. To make it safer for drinking, families boil water using wood or charcoal, both of which contribute to poor air quality. Additionally, many families cannot afford to purchase these fuels, which leads to their drinking unsafe water. CHAI selected a social enterprise called TerraClear, which provides access to Lao Ceramic Water Purifiers. Learn more.

Technology that reverses climate change
As a longer-term and more globally focused investment, CHAI is supporting direct air capture machines from Climeworks; the intention is to accelerate carbon capture. Climeworks’ technology removes CO2 from the air in a highly effective way that enables reuse.

CHAI’s wider climate response

To learn more about CHAI’s wider climate response, read our Earth Hour blog.

In addition to purchasing offsets, CHAI’s actions to systematically respond to climate change are integrated into all levels of our work:

  • Programs: Alongside our commitment to include offset purchases in all proposal budgets, CHAI is also planning ways for our health programs to address emissions in procurement and service delivery, and to leverage new technologies that enhance the sustainability of facilities.
  • Leadership: CHAI and our partners created CAD. As part of our membership in this organization, CHAI has set the goals of carbon neutrality by 2025 and a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.
  • Daily operations: At the staff level, we are inviting our staff to approach their work with consideration for the climate. Because of the diversity of the work we do, those approaches can be drastically different. We are all finding our own ways to make small changes that recognize our impact on the environment.

For more information about CHAI’s approach to climate, learn more at Our Programs or reach out to our Director of Donor Engagement, Seema Arora at sarora@clintonhealthaccess.org, who is leading this work.

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