In 2014, Sanlam Cape Town Marathon was declared South Africa’s first carbon neutral sporting event. Working with Sanlam, the headline sponsor for the event, Climate Neutral Group followed a four-step process to achieve this result.
In hosting the event in Cape Town, the organisers sought to minimise the environmental impacts of the marathon in the planning stages. In general, an event’s scale — the number of attendees (including how and from where they travel), the extent of the catering, and the kind of activities that will take place — influence how to best reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Step 1: MEASURE
The first step for the organisers was to define the carbon footprint of the event by identifying all sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Working with a carbon and sustainability consultancy to offer objective measurement and advice, major sources of emissions were measured, such as participants travelling to Cape Town by air and road, and the manufacturing of goods and services. Smaller emissions included energy consumption at the event, catering, paper use and food waste.
Step 2: REDUCE
Once all emissions associated with the event were identified, strategies for reducing them were devised in line with Sanlam’s goal of reducing the company’s carbon footprint by 15% based on its 2010 emissions. By focusing on minimising environmental impacts in the planning stages, a number of carbon-reduction activities were put in place from the outset, such as establishing ‘chuck zones’, or designated areas where runners could dispose of used water sachets rather than dropping them randomly on the road or pavement.
Step 3: OFFSET
For aspects of the event where carbon emissions could not be reduced, carbon offsets where used. In the case of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, the event was offset with projects in South Africa, thereby promoting local sustainable development. These included the Wonderbag, Basa Magogo, and Joburg Waste to Energy projects, each of which have a strong community emphasis with positive social benefits.
Step 4: COMMUNICATE
Holding a carbon neutral event helped the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon raise awareness of climate change issues and the actions that can be taken by companies to reduce and offset carbon emissions. Some of the channels used to communicate this achievement were the official marathon website, event programme, subsequent media releases, signage, and Sanlam publications. The organisers also set up an on-site sustainability booth, manned by World Wide Fund for Nature SA, Climate Neutral Group and a local tree planting NGP called GreenPop, to provide information about the event’s greening initiatives, as well as allowing participants to offset their travel emissions quickly via an offset app.
South Africa aims to publish draft regulations in late April establishing which domestic offset types can be used to comply with the country’s planned carbon tax.
The draft will establish what offset standards – such as the UN’s CDM, Gold Standard or theVCS – will be eligible, as well as a list of project types that emitters are entitled to use, according to Cecil Morden, a senior official in South Africa’s finance ministry.
The publication of the draft rules will be followed by a consultation of several weeks, before the government refines the regulations further, Morden told Carbon Pulse on the sidelines of the World Bank’s Carbon pricing: sustaining the momentum event in Zurich on Tuesday.
The government is still revising its draft carbon tax bill tabled last November to take into account the more than 100 submissions received through a separate consultation.
The draft bill set out an initial tax rate of R120 ($7.71) per tonne of CO2 and covered all sectors of the economy except waste management and forestry and land-use, which the government said should be exempt for the first phase due to “measurement difficulties”.
The bill has provisions that could mean emitters get exemptions of up to 95%, and it allows them to buy domestic offsets instead of paying the tax.
The South African government is still aiming to have the tax in place from Jan. 1, 2017.
By Ben Garside – firstname.lastname@example.org