Karbonsemleges Magyarország azonnal: tudomány és humánumMaking Hungary carbon neutral, and even zeroing its ecological footprint is scientifically possible with BOCS Foundation’s QFPS™ humanitarian climate protection.

Carbon Neutral Hungary Now - Science and Humaneness | BOCS

Warning to humanitarian and ecological duty by Gyula I. Simonyi, innovator of QFPS™, president of BOCS Civilization Planning Foundation.

The BOCS Foundation developed its Quality Family Planning Standard (QFPS™) in 2017. Utilizing this climate innovation, Hungary could reach carbon neutrality, moreover, net zero ecological footprint within a year, by the most efficient humanitarian act: by supporting family planning globally. Following the same path, the EU could reach the same state of carbon neutrality and zero footprint in 14 years, all OECD countries in 37 years.[1] Of course, the EU and the OECD could get there sooner, if they utilize other emission reduction methods to complement the  prevention of unintended pregnancies worldwide.

The QFPC™ carbon credits based on the QFPS™ standard are social carbon credits. This means that the prevention of unintended pregnancies has a number of social effects beyond avoiding GHG emissions. It supports the attainment of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Securing the human right of contraception (UN, 1968), the knowledge pertaining to it, and the tools to the general public greatly improves the chances of solving the global crisis.

“After being silent on the topic of family planning for more than twenty-five years, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included access to reproductive health services in its 2014 synthesis report and pointed to population growth as an important factor in greenhouse gas concentrations. Growing evidence suggests that family planning has the additional benefit of building resilience…”[2] According to the Drawdown study, the most efficient climate action (after analysing the top 100)[2] is helping the 270 million women who currently lack access to contraceptives.[3] It’s not only key in the mitigation of climate change, but also in terms of climate adaptation. The British government recently published an economic study which states: “Family planning programmes … offer an easy and effective route for governments to empower women, and yet they remain low on the development agenda. It is a paradox.” [4]

The policy significance of our research is connecting a seemingly distant area of foreign policy, international development, into climate protection. Moreover, helping those lacking access to means of contraception, and preventing unintended pregnancies is beneficial for all countries, so debates about emission reduction could be avoided in this field. As „lowest-hanging fruits”, this opportunity is limited, only the quickest countries and companies can offset their emissions in such a cost-effective way. Improving the calculation accuracy of GHG emission reductions via family planning is of great importance. The QFPS™ standard quantifies such reductions with an innovative methodology, based on databases, and scientific studies.

[1] QFPS™ estimation (Estimation only, because this standard validates year by year according to recent data, turning former estimates into facts.)
[2] Paul Hawken. Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. New York, New York: Penguin Books, 2017.
[3] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/family-planning-contraception 
[4] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/962785/The_Economics_of_Biodiversity_The_Dasgupta_Review_Full_Report.pdf  (p. 246)

What is Official Development Assistance (ODA) and within that, promoting family planning (FP)?

According to the UN, the OECD countries (Hungary is a member since 1996) should aid the developing countries with 0.7% of their GNI.[5] In 2018 Hungary has spent 77,1 billion HUF on aid, or 0.21% of its GNI.[6] (Preliminary data show jump: in 2020 the ODA spending is 126.7 billion HUF (411.4 million USD), what means 0.26% of GNI.) The OECD countries have together spent $153.5 billion, or 0.31% of their combined GNI.[7] Unfortunately, only a very small fraction of this aid goes to help those lacking contraception.[8][9]

This is despite the fact that the money spent on family planning is by far the most cost-effective form of aid in terms of beneficial social effects.[10] Reducing the gap in family planning requires complex action: providing education, securing means and services, empowerment of girls and women, legal development, etc.

Reports by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicate the  money needed to prevent  unintended pregnancies, and their consequences: abortions, miscarriages, maternal and infant deaths and unwanted births (and all of their social and ecological costs). In the end, contraception prevents the GHG emissions and environmental impact of an entire lifetime.

[5] https://data.oecd.org/oda/net-oda.htm
[6] https://nefe.kormany.hu/download/7/f5/72000/Hungary%20-%20International%20Development%20Cooperation%20Profile.pdf (5.o)
[7] https://hellenicaid.mfa.gr/en/diethnes-plaisio-kai-anaptyxiaki-politiki/oosa-dac/prosorina-stoikheia-tes-kratikes-anaptuxiakes.html
[8] https://www.dsw.org/en/2020/12/a-deep-dive-into-the-donors-delivering-for-srhr-report/ 
[9] euromapping
[10] https://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/post-2015-consensus/economist 

How could Hungary become carbon neutral in the most cost-effective way?

From an ecological standpoint, Hungary is among the best,[11] but of course, it needs to further reduce its ecological footprint, including its carbon footprint. But the true leap would be nullifying the remaining ecological footprint by helping to prevent unintended pregnancies! According to the estimations of QFPS™, to achieve this, it would be enough for Hungary to give a mere 0.1% more of its GNI for ODA, specifically targeted at preventing unintended pregnancies. Moreover, this way, the country can become a pack leader among the new members of the EU with 0.31% of GNI, approaching the EU average. Doing this for 10 years, Hungary would become fully carbon neutral, and would remain carbon neutral for free for the life expectancy of the average person, up until 2090.

We are talking about estimates here, because one cannot offset emissions with promises (e.g. with newly planted trees), only with the certified credits from the evaluation of finished projects (e.g. mature forest). Preventing unintended pregnancies however creates new credits year after year, based on the average carbon footprint of a non-OECD citizen, and other factors.

This half a billion HUF per year needs to be spent on prevention of 3 million unintended pregnancies, cooperating with the UNFPA and other organizations, and with Hungarian ODA projects specializing in this. Such projects are underway in Africa, and evaluating these by the QFPS™ can already result in carbon credits. „There are such projects which try to counter overpopulation: women to get career opportunities and a profession, and become capable of thoughtful family planning” (Azbej Tristan, the Hungarian Secretary of State responsible for helping the persecuted Christians and realizing the Hungary Helps Program).[12]

[11] https://bocs.eu/a-wwf-vakon-hibaztatja-a-magyarokat-frissitett-verzio/
[12] https://pestisracok.hu/a-hungary-helps-program-klimavaltozas-elleni-harcot-is-tamogatja/  

What is carbon offset?

Carbon neutrality cannot be reached without carbon offset, i.e. using carbon credits, because there will always remain some GHG emissions that cannot be eliminated (if nothing else, then from the breathing of humans and livestock). A carbon unit is to be created when 1 tonnes of GHG emission was prevented or sequestered from the atmosphere. This is post-financed by the one who uses the carbon credit, which was created by using up the carbon unit, for carbon offset. This isn’t donation, sponsorship or tender support, which helps future projects, but post-financing the result of a work already done. Carbon credit means the following: with emissions, the polluter will be in debt to the investors of projects that prevent emissions or sequester carbon. This debt is settled by carbon offsets. During carbon offsetting, money from polluters goes to the cleaners, and thus, the economy becomes greener.

The nonprofit organizations generally reinvest such income on climate protection, but those using carbon offsets don’t need to ask what they spend the money on, but what past projects the carbon units were derived from. In registries which are properly administering carbon offsets, this can be seen with all units, and all documentations are accessible.

The usual criticisms that carbon offsets face don’t really apply to a QFPC™ carbon unit, because it is quite different. Its lifecycle ecological impact is minimal, it doesn’t transfer ecological footprint onto other sectors (moreover, not even hormonal contraceptives increase the hormonal load of living waters, but in practice, they have a net reducing effect [13]). Compared to this, renewable energy capacities have a significant lifecycle ecological footprint.

Moreover, compared to carbon credits based on biological sequestration, QFPC™ can be viewed as final. While carbon sequestered in forests or the soil isn’t forever; these are endangered credits, as forest fires, droughts, pests, erosion, etc. can get it back into the atmosphere.

Helping those lacking contraception is also a humanitarian and human rights duty, and the most important responsibility towards future generations. „Before we could even think about conceiving children, those who are alive should prepare the place for the arrival of these children.” (Gandhi)[14] For responsible conception, the couple has to ponder this question: Would a child really want to be conceived by us, now?[15] 

Even if not used to offset anything, the prevention of unintended pregnancies still prevents the emission of a lifetime of GHG emissions (and ecological footprint), and is still the most efficient form of climate protection.

[13] https://bocs.eu/a-terhesseg-tizszer-nagyobb-hormonterheles-mint-a-fogamzasgatlo/
[14] https://bocs.eu/oszinte-erkolcsi-felelosseggel/
[15] Simonyi Gyula (szerk): “Igazán szeretne egy gyermek nálunk és most megfoganni?”, BOCS Alapítvány, 2008.

How much is there of this „lowest hanging fruit”

Worldwide, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended by the couple.[16] This ratio is 43% in Europe,[17] but ODA is directed towards non-OECD countries, so we can calculate with the average ecological and carbon footprint and life expectancy of non-OECD countries. Every year, tens of millions of unintended pregnancies can be prevented by the promotion of contraception (and thus, tens of millions of abortions and miscarriages, which are part of the humanitarian results).[18] More accurate data is being calculated by QFPS™ based on  a lot of variables, databases and scientific results, year after year.

It is logical to utilize QFPS™ carbon offset first, as it is an immediate and low cost way to prevent GHG emission (moreover, full ecological footprint). In comparison, other emission prevention methods widely discussed (e.g. forests, renewables, cleaner tech, etc.) are usually expensive, slow, and have significant lifecycle ecological footprint. These are left for those countries and companies who can’t get enough of the QFPC™, which can potentially produce credits of about a quarter billion tonnes per year.

Although one year of preventing a hundred million unintended pregnancies wouldn’t even prevent one percent of the emissions of humanity in the first year, but with a single investment, it will bring credits for free over a lifetime. Forest protection and plantation is like that as well, but QFPC™ isn’t an endangered credit, and doesn’t require land (which is unfortunately a scarce resource on Earth). Renewable energy capacities also produce carbon credits with a single investment, but their lifetimes are shorter, their maintenance and their retirement are costly. By switching over to electric driving, avoiding 1 ton of emissions is about a thousand (!) times more expensive than by promoting contraception.[2]

Presuming that in about 10 years, unintended pregnancies avoidable by securing access to education and contraception opportunities disappear on the Earth, and that carbon footprints reach zero by 2050 according to promises, about one year’s worth of global emissions in QFPC™ could be created altogether. For this, the world would need to do its basic humanitarian duty towards women and girls. If the amount of this GHG emission doesn’t seem much, then let’s consider that this also means the prevention of total ecological footprint. Moreover, let’s consider what ecological healing it could come from the end of unintended pregnancies, from the global population growth turning into a decrease, and with a dramatic improvement in the mental and physical health of society…

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6055480/
[17] https://europepmc.org/article/MED/33879531
[18] https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/abortion-worldwide.pdf (p. 53)