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Climate-friendly trade shows: IAA MOBILITY as trailblazer

What makes climate-neutral mobility possible? How can we get around whilst being environmentally friendly? Solutions to forward-looking questions like these are being shown at IAA MOBILITY 2021. But it’s not just the vehicles or bikes where being climate-neutral is the goal. IAA MOBILITY itself is serving as a blueprint for sustainable trade shows.

“It is unusual for exhibitors to be asked about their emissions in advance of the trade show,” comments Harald Rettich, who is calculating the greenhouse gas emissions for IAA MOBILITY 2021 for the individual exhibitor presentations in Munich. He is aware that the subject is still wholly new ground for many partners. “It’s not standard as yet in the trade show sector. Some exhibitors and stand constructors were surprised that they needed to take CO2 emissions into account in their planning,” says Rettich, Team Leader Corporate Partnerships at myclimate, IAA MOBILITY’s partner for effective climate protection: “We are leading the way with IAA MOBILITY.”

All those exhibiting in the Open Space are undertaking to design their presence at the show to have a CO2-neutral balance sheet. The Open Space is located right in the heart of the city, where the innovative mobility of the future will be lived ­– for example, on Wittelsbacherplatz and Königsplatz, on Max-Joseph-Platz and in the courtyards of the Residenz palace. Test drives with various vehicles are planned here. Entertainment and dialog are the focus in presenting the new mobility solutions. What visitors see here they can also try out right away – on micro-mobility test routes or on the Blue Lane. This is a dedicated environmental lane that may only be driven climate-neutrally or as a carpool with at least three people on board, connecting the exhibition space with the Open Space in central Munich.

Only cars with climate-neutral drive systems, plug-in hybrids in e-mode, or carpools with at least three occupants are allowed on the Blue Lane. © IAA MOBILITY 2021
The Blue Lane is reserved for cars with climate-neutral powertrains, plug-in hybrids in e-mode or car-pools with at least three people sharing © IAA MOBILITY 2021

No show stand is like any other – and not when it comes to its CO2 footprint eit

How do you set about such a mammoth task as CO2-neutral show stands?  The first move is to ask the exhibitors about their stand designs, and then to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions using special parameters and to convert that into a CO₂​equivalent (CO₂e).

Important elements in this include, for example, the stand size, cooling or heating, the stand materials, transport to the site, the quantity of waste the stand will generate, and the travel routes for the stand constructors and stand staff in getting to the event venue. Harald Rettich comments: “Some exhibitors fly in a car in order to show it, while others are bringing a bike to the show via train – that has a different impact on the exhibitor’s level of greenhouse gas emissions.”

What quantity of emissions does a show stand generate on average? “There’s no benchmark for that. Every show is different,” explains Rettich, outlining that it can depend for instance on the materials used ­– whether they are materials that can be used several times over, such as recyclable or even already-recycled wood. Even the question of how recycling takes place can raise or lower the CO2 footprint: “A fully-aluminum stand would be the worst case when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Offsetting projects: Biogas in Vietnam, moorland in Schleswig-Holstein

In order that the IAA’s CO₂ footprint ultimately achieves a zero balance sheet, all emissions that are generated are offset via climate protection projects funded by donations from the exhibitors. The exhibitors are free to choose from myclimate projects featuring ten different technologies. Biogas, solar or composting are all on offer. As are cooking stoves, recycling plants and reforestation projects, for example.

As an illustration, one of the projects gives people in rural Vietnam access to clean energy in their local authority area, through the building of biogas facilities. Waste is converted into biogas, which is used for example for cooking. This helps local people in several ways simultaneously. “These people are often cooking over open fires in the home,” Rettich explains. “It means the women stand for hours in the smoke from the fire, and need to spend a lot of time collecting wood.” If, in place of this, a cooker is operated using biogas, not only are the emissions from burning the wood saved, but the women also have fewer respiratory and eye problems, and more time to care for their children or to run a small business.

There is also a project in Germany that can be used in climate offsetting: the renaturing of the Königsmoor in Schleswig-Holstein, a moorland which is a natural climate protector. Intact moorland stores many tons of CO2 from decaying plant remains. Conversely, if moorlands dry out, they give off greenhouse gases that damage the climate – in Germany alone, over 40 million tons of CO2 per year.

[Translate to English:] Der Sonnentau wächst im Königsmoor. Er gehört zu den gefährdeten Arten und steht unter Naturschutz © Stiftung Naturschutz Schleswig-Holstein via myclimate
The sundew, growing on the Königsmoor. It is a threatened species and is a protected plant. © Stiftung Naturschutz Schleswig-Holstein via myclimate

Visitors can calculate their own CO2 footprint

It’s not only the exhibitors, but also visitors to IAA MOBILITY 2021 who can calculate their CO2 footprint for their travel to the event – at least, if they come by car or plane. The myclimate car emissions calculator determines the direct and indirect emissions for the distance traveled. Emissions originating in the manufacture of the car, in maintenance and disposal, are also factored in, as are the processing of fuel or electricity and the provision of infrastructure such as roads or filling stations. So, anyone wanting to make their own visit to the IAA climate-neutral can find out here what CO2 equivalent their trip has generated. If that is compensated via climate offsetting projects, the environment is a winner – as are the people whose lives are made easier as a result.

(Stage photo: © Getty Images)

The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.