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Welcome to the CNG Team: Silvana Claassen

Global climate change awareness is growing, particularly in terms of what companies can do to reduce and eliminate their environmental impacts and become corporate climate action leaders. Climate Neutral Group, as a result, has been growing too! Earlier this year we welcomed senior carbon advisor Silvana Claassen to our South African team.

1) Why and when did you join Climate Neutral Group?

I joined Climate Neutral Group on 1 April 2018 after a very inspiring meeting with its country director Franz. I figured that my own aspirations to contribute to climate change management and mitigation are in line with Climate Neutral Group’s mission and vision.

2) What do you hope to achieve as a carbon adviser at Climate Neutral Group?

I am passionate about helping businesses understand how climate change can impact their organisations and how they can adapt to the dynamics involved with South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy. I would love to play an active role in this. I have to note that the country’s journey, including the recent promulgation of the Emissions Reporting Regulations, its carbon tax measures and the approval of the Climate Change Bill, is in line with the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP). This government-initiated strategy aims to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth, eliminate poverty, and reduce inequality whilst protecting the environment.

3) What has been the highlight since you joined Climate Neutral Group?

What has stood out are the face-to-face dialogues with several clients. These have contributed to an increased understanding of the challenges these businesses, and the country’s private sector as a whole, are facing when it comes to managing their greenhouse gas emissions.

4) How important is it that companies in South Africa (and beyond) start and up their efforts to minimise their impact on the planet?

Having specialised in the matter since 2011, I know climate change is a genuine threat to the planet, to every living being, and to every single business. Global action by companies in South Africa and elsewhere, as well as measures from governments and citizens, is fundamental to protect the planet for current and future generations. We all need to become corporate climate action leaders.

5) How important is offsetting to mitigate climate change?

Offsetting is necessary to achieve carbon neutrality, or at least to mitigate emissions that would not have occurred without it. It is a tool that is used to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions that are unavoidable given the current state of technology. Last but certainly not least, fighting climate change also forms part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Because of my background and the work I do, I fully support these 17 goals, which were adopted in 2015.

6) What are your three best tips for carbon tax-liable companies who seek to become climate neutral?

Start by measuring your organisation’s carbon footprint to understand the impact of your business activities in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Secondly, talk to a carbon specialist to design a meaningful strategy to reduce your footprint, set future reduction targets and identify cost-effective measures to enable achieving these targets. Finally, offset what you can’t avoid and make an impact somewhere else through the purchase of carbon credits from verified offset projects. It is important to know offsetting has socioeconomic benefits too, such as improved (indoor) air-quality, women empowerment, and food security.

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The Maslow Hotel partners with GreenDreams

The Maslow Sandton has partnered with GreenDreams – developed by Climate Neutral Group to help hotels take action on climate change – as part of its efforts in optimising the eco-friendliness and resource efficiency of its conferencing facilities and achieving its green goal to be carbon neutral.

The Maslow hotel will offset the carbon emissions generated by the use of their meeting rooms and conference facilities by investing in carbon offsets which will be used to fund the Wonderbag Project. Certified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), the project provides communities with access to greener, safer and more reliable energy to cook their everyday meals.

“The Maslow Sandton cares about the environment and takes to heart its obligation to operate in a sustainable manner. As the need for lighting, catering, heating and cooling in conferencing venues contributes to the generation of greenhouse gas emissions, we wanted to limit the impact of these operations on the environment, with the goal to make our venues carbon neutral,” says Ashwin Jose, general manager at The Maslow.

Boosting resource efficiency

The Wonderbag, developed in South Africa, is an innovative cooker that relies on the age-old concept of heat retention cooking to reduce energy needs. Once food has been brought to the boil using a heat source, the warm pot containing the food is placed immediately in the Wonderbag and the food slowly cooks without using any additional energy. A Wonderbag can be used to cost-effectively prepare a wide range of one-pot dishes, casseroles, curries, cooked salads, and more. The Wonderbag also saves water (due to less evaporation), with one bag saving as much as 150 litres per year.

“Both business and leisure travellers are becoming more responsible about their travel choices, and are looking for convenient ways to green their travelling as much as they can. Also, an increasing number of companies are looking for conference venues that are carbon neutral. We are excited that the Maslow Hotel Sandton has joined an ever-increasing number of hotel chains across the world that are taking action against climate change,” says Nishanthi Lambrichs, Programme Manager for GreenDreams.

“We have various initiatives underway to improve the resource efficiency of our operations and we are also pursuing carbon offsetting. By offsetting the carbon emissions generated by our meeting rooms and conference facilities with the Wonderbag project, we are making strides towards being carbon neutral while supporting a sustainable project that is aimed at improving the quality of life of people in our local communities. About 22,485 people have been reached with clean cooking thanks to The Maslow’s contribution in carbon offsets,” says Jose.

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Canon SA on its way towards climate neutrality

For the third consecutive year, our client Canon South Africa has reached its target to offset its carbon footprint by a minimum of 365 tons of CO2e. Now well on its way to becoming a climate neutral business, Canon South Africa offset over 365 tonnes of emissions, equaling 19,34% of its carbon footprint, in 2017. This is buoyed by the 23,11% and 15,03% the company offset in 2016 and 2015 respectively.

“Canon South Africa is on the road to climate neutrality,” says Iza Daly, sustainability manager and EMEA internal environment auditor. “This is a goal close to our heart. We have several optimisation programmes in place to improve the resource and energy efficiency of our operations.”

Greener business through offsetting

“Carbon offsetting is aligned with these initiatives to make our business greener. Carbon offsetting allows us to reduce our carbon footprint while supporting sustainable projects that are aimed at improving the quality of life of people threatened by the impact of climate change,” she said, not9ng that Canon South Africa is working with Climate Neutral Group to offset its carbon emissions by supporting carbon reduction projects.

“Three years ago, we set our target to reduce our carbon footprint by offsetting a minimum of 365 tonnes of CO2e annually. We have managed to achieve this target every year since and we are steadfast in our commitment to do the same again in 2018. The more we are able to offset, the more we can help communities.”

Offsetting and the SA Carbon Tax

Carbon offsetting is achieved by taking responsibility for one’s carbon footprint by financing carbon reduction projects elsewhere. Carbon offsetting will ultimately see Canon South Africa reduce the amount it pays in carbon tax. Canon South Africa offsets its annual carbon emissions through the Wonderbag. Developed in South Africa, the Wonderbag is a cooker that relies on the age-old concept of heat retention to save on energy costs.

Once food has been brought to the boil using a conventional heat source, the warm pot containing the food is placed immediately in the Wonderbag which slowly cooks the food without using any additional energy. Wonderbags can be used to cost-effectively prepare a wide range of one pot dishes, casseroles, curries, cooked salads, and more.

The power of the Wonderbag

The Wonderbag also saves water (due to less evaporation), with one bag saving as much as 150 litres per year. So this means for every one ton of CO2 emissions that Canon South African helps to offset, it also enables three Wonderbags to be distributed, which in turn saves 450l water per year.

According to Franz Rentel from the Climate Neutral Group, by offsetting over 365 tons of CO2e in 2017, Canon South Africa helped to distribute 1095 Wonderbags.

“This contributed to water savings of around 160,000 liters per year. And remember a Wonderbag can last for up to 10 years, so the water savings will be higher over the lifespan of the bags,” Daly adds. “This is particularly significant in the Western Cape which is in the grips of a severe water shortage that has called everyone in the province to find more water-economical ways of living and working.”