Rotary Club of Wellington, New Zealand has achieved a ‘first’ – by becoming perhaps the first Rotary Club in New Zealand, and one of the first internationally to become a certified Carbon Zero organisation.  Picture shows Rotary Club of Wellington President Denise Church, and Climate Change Committee Chair Roger Blakeley, receiving a Carbon Zero organisation certificate from Steve Dixon of Toitū Envirocare.
This story is inspirational and an example to all Rotary clubs and includes a challenge to become involved by all clubs ... read on.
Picture: Wellington Mayor Justin Lester planting native trees on Arbor Day June 2019, in support of Rotary Club project "Forest in the Heart of Wellington.
Rotary Club of Wellington has a long history of being ‘leaders of positive social change’. Past projects have included Eradicating Polio, nursing homes for mothers and babies, Disability Support Services New Zealand, Skilled Migrants, and Refugee Trauma Recovery. Current 'visionary' projects include 'Forest in the Heart of Wellington', to plant 100,000 native trees by 2021; and creating a Rotary Peace, Remembrance and Community Forests Trust, with a proposal to the New Zealand Government's 'Billion Trees Fund', to plant one million trees over the next three years as a starting point. Our Club members decided in May 2018 that Climate Change is the next big issue that we should tackle.
We worked with Club members to calculate the Club's annual carbon footprint. This included the carbon emissions of members travelling to and from lunch meetings and other Club events, and our share of the electricity, food and waste at our venues. 
At the Club’s request, Enviro-Mark Solutions (now renamed Toitū Envirocare), New Zealand’s leading environmental certification provider,  appointed an independent auditor who confirmed our carbon emissions calculation. The annual total for the Club in 2018/19 was 7.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The audit process included submission of a plan to progressively reduce our carbon emissions in future years.
To offset the carbon emissions for 2018-19, the Club has  purchased 8 tonnes of carbon credits from Puhi Peaks Station, Kaikoura (left picture)  in the South Island of New Zealand, at a cost of $34.10 per tonne.. These are "gold standard" carbon credits for growing native forest with biodiversity add-on benefits of protecting endangered native birds.
The purchase of carbon credits for 2018/19 has a modest total cost of $273. This is being  funded by voluntary contributions from Club members.
Although the Club’s footprint is small, the  greatest impact will be influencing other Rotary Clubs in New Zealand, and through Rotary International. We are writing up a case study on our experience, which could  be helpful guidance for other organisations wanting to follow our lead. Our Club’s modest efforts could be multiplied many times, especially through Rotary International, to become a significant contribution to the global effort to combat climate change.
The project is not just about achieving net zero carbon emissions by the Club. It is also to increase awareness amongst our members of the personal actions and decisions that each of us can take to reduce our own and our household’s carbon footprint, through actions on transport, energy, food and waste
Combating climate change is not just a matter for government and businesses. We all need to take responsibility. This is an example of Rotary, as a membership organisation, putting our hand up and saying ‘we are going to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions, both as a club, and supporting our members’ awareness and choices.’
We will keep you informed as this project develops, including when the case study on our experience is published on our website in early 2020. We hope this will be helpful for other Rotary Clubs around the world who may want to become certified Zero Carbon organisations.
Our measures of success will be:
1. Rotary Club of Wellington certified as a Carbon Zero organisation - achieved 11 November 2019.
2. Club members meeting their goals for reduction of their personal and household carbon footprints - annually.
3. Publication on the Club's website of a case study to provide guidance to other Rotary Clubs around the world on how to become a certified carbon zero organisation - by 31 March 2020.
4. 100 Rotary Clubs in New Zealand and through Rotary International become certified carbon zero organisations - by 30 June 2025.
Dr Roger Blakeley
Chair, Climate Change Committee, Rotary Club of Wellington, New Zealand