At the 59. Venice Biennale the first carbon neutral artwork
5 June 2022 – It is called Diplomazija Astuta and it is the installation that Arcangelo Sassolino has created for the 59th. International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale (23 April – 27 November 2022) for the Malta Pavilion. What makes it even more unique is a very special feature: it is the world’s first carbon neutral artwork. In fact, a voluntary international standard (ISO 14067:2018*) was applied to its construction and the CO2 equivalent emissions produced during its construction and installation were certified. After identifying how to reduce the impact, the remaining emissions were offset by financing the Ntakata Mountains forest protection project in Tanzania, which combines biodiversity protection with development opportunities and protection of land management rights for local communities. The entire process was supervised and validated by an independent third party.
For the offsetting part, this was achieved thanks to the collaboration with Carbonsink, an Italian company part of the South Pole Group specialising in the development of projects that generate high quality carbon credits, certified with the main international standards.
“Art has the extraordinary ability to bring us closer to nature and convey the value of environmental protection through emotion and suggestion. This is why we are proud to have collaborated on the carbon neutrality of the work,” commented Andrea Maggiani, founder and Managing Director of Carbonsink. ‘Besides the high symbolic and value value, the steps taken are exemplary because they are in line with the highest standards of climate action. The same ones we recommend to companies and organisations that want to do their part in tackling climate change: emissions measurement, reduction and offsetting‘.
Carbon Neutrality: the journey
Taking the urgency of the climate crisis to heart and aware of the environmental impact of his work, artist Arcangelo Sassolino worked together with his technical and curatorial team to reduce the climate impact of Diplomazija Astuta as much as possible.
With the collaboration of Susanna Sieff, an expert sustainability consultant for major national and international events and companies, a series of actions have been identified to reduce climate-changing gas emissions in advance. These practices include, among others, the use during the seven months of the Venice Biennale of energy from completely renewable sources and the total recovery of steel, which will be melted down and then totally recycled in a local production circuit. Residual emissions were also calculated with the help of the Tetis Institute and independently verified by DNV, an international certification body.
Residual emissions were offset with the support of Carbonsink, through the use of certified carbon credits**. The credits used to offset the 81 tonnes of residual CO2e are of the highest quality, generated by the Ntakata Mountains REDD project, launched in May 2017 in Tanganyika District, Western Tanzania, with the aim of engaging and supporting local communities̀ in protecting their villages’ forest reserves.
The Ntakata Mountains project was chosen for its proximity to the message of Diplomazija Astuta. Focusing on the creation of development opportunities and the land management rights of local communities, Ntakata Mountains combines the fight against climate change with efforts to tackle inequality and social injustice. It contributes to the achievement of 11 out of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to reducing climate gas emissions from deforestation, the project contributes to the conservation of the local ecosystem by protecting biodiversity and wildlife habitats.
*ISO 14067 is published in 2018 and defines the principles, requirements and guidelines for quantifying and reporting product carbon footprint (CFP), building on the international reference standards for LCA studies (ISO 14040 and ISO 14044). The carbon footprint is understood as the sum of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals over the life cycle of a product.
** Carbon credits
A financial unit representing the reduction or removal of one tonne of CO2e from the atmosphere. It is generated through the development of mitigation projects that follow precise methodologies and international standards and is certified by an external accreditation programme (e.g. VCS, Gold Standard). It can be used within carbon-neutral, net-zero or climate-positive corporate strategies as a means of offsetting emissions and contributing to mitigation actions outside the value chain.
Carbonsink is a consulting company that accompanies the private sector in climate strategy and is internationally accredited in the development of mitigation projects, capable of generating carbon credits certified by the main international standards. From January 2022 it joins South Pole, forming the world’s largest group for climate mitigation solutions and projects.