By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I’ll be attending a trade show in Berlin shortly. As I’m growing more conscious of the environment the older I’m getting I was hoping you might be able to share any news on how Berlin works on green efforts. Please don’t point out that I am flying and how much emissions airplanes use. I grapple with this issue every day but unfortunately the line of work I am in has me travel quite a bit. I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

A: Berlin is going green so green that today conclude’s the German capital city’s “International Green Week” which provided visitors with a week-long green event showcasing nutrition, agriculture and horticulture from over 1,000 participants, many of them from other countries.

Started in 1926, this annual event is highly anticipated. It’s here where you’ll get a chance to view a bevy of bovines among other farm animals along with a chance to sample local flavours, and interact with hundreds of participants. Next year’s event is scheduled January 16 - 25 2009.

In addition, the city also introduced a new environmental zone in January. The Environmental Zone is the area within the so-called S-Bahn ring, the light railway line encircling central Berlin. According to a paper released by Berlin’s Senate Department for Health titled, Berlin’s Environmental Zone from 2008: What Driver’s Need To Know, vehicles may only enter this area if they display a valid sticker showing that their emissions do not exceed a specified level of fine particulates. Signs have been erected on the roads clearly showing where the Environmental Zone begins.

If planning on driving in Berlin, make sure you have the sticker as it is an offence to drive a vehicle inside the Evironmental Zone without the appropriate sticker. Many of the trade shows are held in Berlin’s Exhibition Grounds and the ICC, Europe’s largest conference centre. According to the Berlin Tourism Office these venues are located outside the Environmental Zone.

Lastly air travellers to Berlin can now take advantage of a CO2 calculator of the airline you are flying with. An organization called Atmosfair lets you plug in your coordinates online and calculates in seconds what your emission levels are for that trip.

For instance, a return flight for one passenger from Toronto to Berlin is estimated to be 4380 kg CO2. Atmosfair is a joint initiative with Forum Anders Reisen, an association of tour operators and the development organization Germanwatch and is supported by the German Federal Environment Ministry.

The group reports you can save this amount of CO2 in an atmosfair climate project for 102 Euros (about $153 CDN) and receive an atmosfair certificate. The proceeds go to emissions saving projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


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