Jeffrey Sachs Center Develops Impact Assessment for Community Carbon Footprint Reduction

In collaboration, the Jeffrey Sachs Center on Sustainable Development (JSC) at Sunway University and the Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise (RCBKS) designed and implemented a campaign to educate and empower Rotary Club members and their families to understand the link between personal consumption patterns and global environmental consequences. 


The programme lasted for six weeks and comprised four areas of change: Composting and Planting, Home Energy, Food Choices, and Food Storage and Shopping. In each of these areas, briefings were conducted by both JSC and RCBKS Green Team members.  The goal was to reduce carbon emissions from these four areas by 20% at the end of the six weeks.


Starting 3rd April 2021, on a weekly basis, participants were asked to record their meat intake, composting effort and waste generation. Based on data collected, in Week 3 and 5 of the campaign, the members were given comparisons in the trends in their food intake and waste generation.  


Instructional material was designed through a process of consultation and deliberation between Jeffrey Sachs Center staff and Rotary Club of Bukit Kiara Sunrise Green Team members.


Each week’s meetings would feature an educational and instructional briefing on a particular aspect of lifestyle change for sustainable living. The design of each briefing was to present larger issues of the environment and relate them to individual actions. Participants were exposed to sustainability impacts of each focus area. Briefings included bite-sized information on macro-level topics such as the different types of greenhouse gases and their global warming potential; home energy consumption in Malaysia; greenhouse gas emissions across the food supply chain; and global statistics on food waste. 


Each of these macro-level areas were then linked to individual-scale actions. Composting and Planting was linked to carbon sequestration in soil and plant biomass. In Home Energy, switching off geyser water heaters was linked to a reduction in reliance on a fossil-fuel dependent power grid. On the topic of Food Choice, plant-based food was shown to have a lower supply chain environmental impact than most animal-products. On Shopping, smart food storage techniques were linked to the global food waste reduction.


The programme highlighted not only the reduced environmental impact through its carbon accounting mechanism, but it also showed how small shifts in daily living could reduce household expenditure across electricity bills and shopping for food. 


On Week 6, a summary presentation was given where participants were shown their overall impact to the environment in terms of carbon emissions. For the case of RCBKS, emissions were reduced by 9.3%. As a fun exercise, virtual recognition was given to three categories of winners: the largest reducers in carbon emissions from electricity savings; the largest reducers in carbon emissions from reduced meat consumption; starting and maintaining composting effort. 


An awards ceremony was conducted at the end of the programme to celebrate the lifestyle changes of individuals and their families.


This project was featured as part of the Global Climate Conference Webinar series on 3rd June 2021. The sharing focused on providing a comprehensive understanding on the improvements to wellbeing from undertaking the project. Playing its role as a conduit for knowledge-transfer, the Jeffrey Sachs Center presented carbon accounting approaches successfully used within the campaign for the audience to use. A step-by-step approach was shown so that other Rotary Clubs and community groups could use the approach to measure their own sustainable lifestyle changes.


In addition to a presentation on methodology, the project was further elucidated by four participants in the campaign. The range of specialists and practitioners was deliberate to ensure the project could be seen from both the impacts to carbon accounting and personal wellbeing. 


Further information about this project can be obtained by emailing jsc@sunway.edu.my.