Lights, camera, carbon-neutral action!

A Mexican film about a community living in harmony with nature has become the first documentary film to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by its production by making use of UN-certified carbon reduction credits.

The producers of Bosque de Niebla used UN-certified carbon reduction credits to produce the world’s first climate-neutral documentary film.

Bosque de Niebla, directed by Mónica Álvarez Franco and released in 2017, tells the story of a small community in the Mexican state of Veracruz, located in a “Bosque de Niebla”, which means cloud forest in Spanish.

Like the community’s inhabitants, who live in harmony with nature and adapt the needs of their community to fit with their precious surroundings, the film’s production sought to reduce its environmental footprint to a minimum.

Natural light, solar panels

“When we learned that we could compensate with carbon credits, we were curious to know how much we had polluted. We had an epiphany when we realized that the production process we had was already consciously sustainable,” said Carlos Sosa, the director general of General of Viento del Norte Cine, which produced the documentary

“For example, only natural light was used in the scenes of the film, the electricity we used for equipment was generated by solar panels, we harvested some of our food, used dry toilets, and water was heated with sustainable wood”.

“Compensation of emissions was a logical next step,” he added.

Measuring, reducing and compensating emissions

The film followed the three-step Climate Neutral Now method of measuring emissions, reducing them as much as possible, and then compensating for the unavoidable emissions using UN-certified emissions reduction credits (CERs) via the UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative.

Climate neutrality is not necessarily about zero emissions, explains UN Climate Change. Instead, it is about reducing current emissions to the point where we reach a balance between our emissions and the absorptive capacity of the Earth.

CERs come from projects registered under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism. They include projects in developing countries that provide a credit for each tonne of greenhouse gas reduced or avoided. The 8,100 CER projects and programmes in 111 countries range from clean cookstoves and water purification projects to wind power and large industrial gases projects.

Sustainable community, sustainable film

Niclas Svenningsen, Global Climate Action manager at UN Climate Change, welcomes the addition of films to CNNs projects: “We are happy to have the first climate neutral movie as part of the Climate Neutral Now initiative. Bosque de Niebla has proved that successful films can not only tell about climate change issues and sustainability but also can be sustainable themselves.”

According to UN Climate Change, the film industry has a major role to play in promoting global climate action by raising awareness on the issue. At the same time, the industry has a considerable carbon footprint due to greenhouse gases emitted from travel to sets around the world, generators, and intense set lighting.

Svenningsen hopes that the example of Bosque de Niebla serves “as inspiration to the whole film industry” to go climate neutral in the future.


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