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CNG in the Event Greening Forum spotlights

The Event Greening Forum interviewed Nishanthi Lambrichs, CNG carbon advisor and Programme Manager for GreenDreams and GreenSeat. Both initiatives were developed by us to help the accommodation and the travel sectors, respectively, take action on climate change.

Q. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU, PERSONALLY, START TO DEVELOP AN AWARENESS ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY, AND A DESIRE TO CHAMPION IT THROUGH YOUR WORK?

Growing up in a country where it’s the norm to separate your waste, cycle everywhere and take public transport on a daily basis, creates a certain awareness for green living and sustainability. Moving to South Africa was a wake-up call in many ways. I worked in the event industry in the Netherlands and the sustainability aspects are important topics on the agenda. When I moved to South Africa, I realised that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. This inspired me to get involved in the sustainability sector; help set the standard and raise awareness in order to create change.

Q. WHAT IS YOUR ROLE AT CLIMATE NEUTRAL GROUP SOUTH AFRICA, AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT IT?

I’m a carbon advisor at CNG and mainly focus on assisting companies within the hospitality industry to gain insight into their carbon footprint, enabling them to reduce and offset their emissions. Our GreenDreams initiative helps hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses in South Africa put measures in place to take responsibility for their environmental impact. [You can read an article on The Maslow’s success with this programme here.] I’m also responsible for GreenSeat: our carbon initiative for the travel sector (we would like to refer to it as the boarding pass to climate neutral flying). We offer several unique tools that help businesses measure, change and finally green their business travel habits.

And, last but not least, there’s Climate Neutral Events. The first step we take to create a carbon neutral event would be to get insights into your event’s carbon footprint in order to set a baseline. The second step is to set targets and reduce your carbon footprint. And, because we, unfortunately, can’t reduce the footprint to zero carbon emissions, investing in offsets is a great way to reduce your climate impact. Assisting companies during this journey and making this world a little greener is what motivates me to go to work every morning.

Q. DOES CLIMATE NEUTRAL OFFSET ITS OWN CARBON FOOTPRINT, AND IF SO, HOW? 

Yes, we do offset our own carbon footprint with a basket of various Gold Standard projects: Biogas Tanzania, Kenya and Cambodia.

Q. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CARBON OFFSET PROJECT YOU’D LIKE TO TELL US ABOUT?

There are currently two projects within our portfolio that I really like. The Wonderbag and, our latest addition, Boreholes in Africa. The Wonderbag is a non-electric heat-retention cooker that allows food that has been brought to the boil by conventional methods to continue to cook for up to 12 hours without using additional energy usage. The Wonderbag offset has significant sustainable development benefits. Firstly, the program creates employment in South Africa, where the bags are used in large numbers. Secondly, field surveys indicate that users of the bags have reduced fuel bills and finally, there is published evidence that reduced consumption of fossil fuels drives down illnesses caused by fumes, smoke, and soot.

The Boreholes in Africa initiative operates in Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, and Eritrea. Here, like anywhere else in the world, clean drinking water is vitally important. Offsetting 1 tonne of CO2 translates into 1.405 litres of clean drinking water for rural households. I think this is a great offset project, especially since access to water is one of the highest threats climate change poses.

Q. IF YOU COULD WAVE A MAGIC WAND AND CHANGE ONE THING ABOUT THE SA EVENTS INDUSTRY TO MAKE IT MORE SUSTAINABLE, WHAT WOULD THAT ONE THING BE?

I find it difficult to pin this down to just one thing, as there are still so many aspects we need to work on. Education and creating awareness for what we try to accomplish is very important though. People need to get a better understanding of what will happen if we don’t take action because we are destroying our beautiful planet if we continue like this.

Transport is an important topic as well, especially since people in South Africa are so used to driving by themselves in their own car to events etc. Of course, safety is playing an important role in this, but organizing more shared transport for events would be a great start. On top of that a lot of people are flying in from different cities, therefore, it would be great to make flight offsetting the norm.

Personally, I’m big on plastic, we should really stop using it, and make conscious decisions to do so as event organizers. For example no straws, but supply bamboo straws instead. At the end of the day, it is better to start with something small, rather than doing nothing at all.

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SA cabinet approves climate change bill

24/5/18 (Carbon Pulse) – South Africa’s cabinet on Thursday approved the government’s proposed carbon tax bill, bringing the long-delayed legislation a step closer to becoming reality.

The bill, which finally entered the parliamentary process after years of hold-ups, will now proceed to a public consultation before it is put to MPs for a vote, with the government hoping to formally introduce the tax in Jan. 2019. The proposal has already had two years of extensive consultation on various drafts and at least another five years of planning before that.

Under the current draft, the tax’s base level would start at R120/tonne ($9.66), rising annually by 2% plus inflation until the end of the first phase (2022), and then align with inflation after that.

However, all emitters will face an effective rate of R6-48/tonne based on the suite of exemptions available and the admissibility of offsets, with some companies able to reduce their tax burdens by as much as 95%. A basic tax-free allowance of 60% is offered to all emitters, with an additional 10% for having process or fugitive emissions.

Another variable allowance of up to 10% is available for trade-exposed sectors, with an additional 5% available for above-average performance relating to sectoral benchmarks. Beyond that, a further 5% can be applied by companies who have developed an annual carbon budget and report it to the government, which itself is planning to design national carbon budgets to help South Africa’s Paris Agreement targets.

Companies will also have an offset usage limit of 5-10% depending on what sector they’re in. The government in June 2016 published draft guidelines outlining the eligible certification and project types but limiting use to credits generated domestically. But big energy users including Sibanye-Stillwater and ArcelorMittal oppose the tax, arguing that even the heavily-discounted levy is unaffordable and will jack up power prices, and therefore should be scrapped or further delayed.

The tax will affect virtually all areas of South Africa’s economy, covering most stationary and non-stationary sources and applying to fossil fuel combustion, fugitive emissions, and industrial processes.

Waste, agriculture, forestry, and other land-use sectors are exempt from paying it or performing MRV until 2022 due to the difficulty in accurately measuring the output from those sources.

A national carbon tax was first suggested by South Africa in 2010, a year before it hosted the annual UN climate talks. But progress has been slow, with the government only publishing the first draft in Nov. 2015.

South Africa’s Paris Agreement pledge requires its GHG emissions to peak in 2020 to 2025, plateau for a 10-year period from 2025 to 2035, then decline from 2036 onwards. More than 80% of its emissions come from its coal-dominant energy sector.

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South Africa carbon tax date announced

22/2/18 (Ernst & Young) – In the 2018 Budget Speech, presented on 21 February 2018, South Africa’s Minister of Finance announced that the Carbon Tax Bill is expected to be enacted before the end of 2018. This means that Government proposes to implement the Carbon Tax from 1 January 2019 to meet its nationally determined contributions under the 2015 Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

National Treasury published the Second Draft Carbon Tax Bill in December 2017, inviting written comments to be submitted by close of business on 9 March 2018.

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Carbon Tax in SA: draft bill enters parliament

13/2/18 (Business Day) – The proposed South African Carbon Tax Bill has entered the parliamentary process after two years of extensive consultation on various drafts. The draft bill will be subjected to public hearings and further submissions before being revised into a final draft that is expected to be completed by mid-2018. The first draft of the bill was published for public comment in November 2015 but preparations started well before that in 2010.

Extensive consultations have already taken place with stakeholders across the spectrum of society and the Treasury has also invited further submissions until March 9.

In terms of the proposals, carbon emissions above a certain level will be taxed at a rate of R120 a tonne of carbon. The tax, which aims to reduce carbon emissions, will be phased in with adjustments being made to other taxes and provision made for tax incentives to ensure the tax is revenue neutral.

A basic tax-free threshold has been proposed for 60% of emissions, with additional allowances made for specific sectors as well. Up to 95% of emissions could be tax exempt. These exemptions could translate into an effective tax rate of R6-R48 a tonne of carbon emissions.

The first phase is expected to last for about four to five years after the implementation date.

The Department of Environmental Affairs’ chief director of climate change mitigation, Deborah Ramalope, and Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat briefed a joint meeting of Parliament’s two finance committees and its environmental affairs committee on the proposals on Tuesday.

No implementation date for the proposals has yet been set. This will be announced later by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, taking into consideration the state of the economy.

The aim of the carbon tax in South Africa, Ramalope said would be to incentivise large carbon emitters to take measures to reduce their emissions. This will assist SA to achieve its international commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change. In terms of these commitments, SA’s emissions will peak between 2020 and 2025, plateau for a 10-year period thereafter and decline from 2036 onwards.

“Pricing carbon is key to driving the transition to a green economy,” Ramalope told MPs. It will incentivise companies to change their carbon emission behaviour.

Momoniat noted that a carbon tax in South Africa bill gave effect to the polluter-pays principle and would help to ensure that firms and consumers took these costs into account in their future production, consumption and investment decisions.

The implementation of the carbon tax will be complemented in the first phase (up to 2022) by a package of tax incentives and revenue recycling measures to minimise the impact on the price of electricity and energy-intensive sectors such as mining and iron and steel. The impact of the tax in the first phase is designed to be revenue neutral.

The Treasury estimates that a carbon tax in South Africa will result in a decrease in emissions of between 13% and 14.5% by 2025 and 26% and 33% by 2035 compared with a business-as-usual approach.

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Carbon Tax Bill draft published for comment

14/12/17 (Business Day) – On Thursday, Treasury published the second draft of the Carbon Tax Bill for public comment and introduction in Parliament. Public hearings on the draft bill — expected early next year — will be held in Parliament, following which a revised bill, taking into account the public comments, will be formally tabled in Parliament, probably around the middle of 2018.

The first draft Carbon Tax Bill was published for public comment in November 2015. It is the product of an extensive consultative process on carbon tax policy which started with the publication of the carbon-tax discussion paper in 2010, followed by the 2013 carbon-tax policy paper, and the 2014 carbon-offsets paper.

Treasury said in a statement that the carbon tax bill will enable SA to meet its commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. According to its estimates, the tax would lead to an estimated decrease in greenhouse gas emissions of 13% to 14.5% by 2025, and 26% to 33% by 2035.

The actual date of implementation of the carbon tax will be determined through a separate and later process by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in an announcement either during 2018 or at the time of the 2019 budget, taking into account the state of the economy.

“The announcement on the implementation date of the carbon tax will be complemented by a package of tax incentives and revenue recycling measures to minimise the impact in the first phase of the policy (up to 2022) on the price of electricity and energy-intensive sectors, such as mining, iron and steel,” Treasury said.

“The impact of the tax in the first phase is designed to be revenue-neutral in terms of its aggregated impact when assessed with the complementary tax incentives and revenue-recycling measures. Further, to ensure a minimal impact on the price of electricity in the initial phase, a credit for (or reduction in) the electricity-generation levy and the renewable-electricity premium (built into the current price of electricity) will also be introduced.

“Some revenue-recycling measures have already been introduced, such as the energy-efficiency savings tax incentive (introduced in 2013) to help with the transition to a lower carbon economy. The effective recycling of revenues to be collected will mitigate any possible short-term negative impacts on the economy and jobs.

“Beyond the first phase, a review of the impact of the tax after at least three years’ implementation will be conducted. The review will take into account the progress made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with our commitments. Future changes to rates and tax-free thresholds in the carbon tax will only follow after the review, and will be subject to the same transparent and consultative processes for all tax legislation, after any appropriate budget announcements by the Finance Minister.”

SA Carbon Tax Bill to be released to Parliament

The South African Carbon Tax Bill will be released to Parliament, said finance minister Malusi Gigaba in his mid-term budget speech on 25 October 2017. Climate Neutral Group (CNG) welcomes the news, calling it a great step forward in South Africa’s commitment to fighting climate change.

Besides expected topics such as national energy security and proposed investments in infrastructure and other sectors, Gigaba’s 2017 mid-term budget statement also featured the proposed Carbon Tax Bill.

“In addition tabling of tax legislation for the 2017 Budget, I am happy to announce that Cabinet has approved the release of the South African Carbon Tax Bill to Parliament for formal consideration and adoption,” he said in Cape Town on 25 October.

Carbon management and corporate climate action firm Climate Neutral Group (CNG), which is based in Cape Town, has welcomed the update around the Carbon Tax Bill, of which the first draft was published in November 2015.

“The main thing is that South Africa’s private sector should now start preparing for new carbon legislation in 2018,” says Franz Rentel, CNG’s Director in South Africa. He noted that Gigaba’s mention of the Carbon Tax Bill proves South Africa’s commitment to fighting climate change and the Paris Agreement.

“A carbon tax law will reduce South Africa’s overall emission of greenhouse gases. This is crucial as we have one of the largest carbon footprints in the world. This is because the bulk of our electricity is generated from coal,” Rentel said, noting that the direct implications of climate change are becoming more and more apparent. “Take the persistent drought in the Western Cape and other extreme weather events like the storm in Durban earlier this year. We all can help curb the prevalence and extent of these events, saving lives and protecting the economy.”

Whilst welcoming the news, Rentel noted that the current draft of the Carbon Tax Bill has at least one major shortcoming: the uncertainty regarding offsetting regulations. “From a private sector point of view carbon offsetting is crucial in lowering one’s carbon tax liability. The revised offsetting regulations, therefore, need to be published as soon as possible, seeing that there will not be enough carbon offsets supply to meet potential demand and the long lead time it takes to develop new offsetting projects.”

Rentel stressed that South Africa isn’t the only country with a Carbon Tax law. “According to the World Bank, 15% of all global emissions were subjected to a tax or a pricing mechanism in 2016. Over the past ten months, eight new carbon pricing initiatives came into being, including in Colombia,” he said, noting that Colombia’s Carbon Tax and Trade scheme is quite similar to South Africa’s proposed law. “The country, however, has passed its carbon legislation in the fraction of time compared to South Africa.”

Whilst a new set of corporate tax rules may sound like bad news, Rentel says it doesn’t have to be that way. “A carbon tax law will make companies in South Africa rethink how they can minimise their carbon emissions in order to pay fewer carbon taxes. Besides being good for the planet and lowering one’s carbon tax payments, increased resource efficiency typically results in lower operational costs,” he said, stressing that climate change is a global problem that affects everyone, business included. “That is why everyone needs to get on board, including the public and the private sector.

This article was originally published by Bizcommunity.

The Peninsula Offsets Conferencing Carbon Footprint

Posted by: TourismTattler, 24 April 2017

With a drive and passion for saving the planet, The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel is dedicated to improving the health conditions and quality of life of families less privileged throughout South Africa by providing them with a simple cooking device – The Wonderbag. Header image credit: Climate Neutral Group.

The Wonderbag is a revolutionary non-electric heat-retention slow cooker that continues to cook food that has been brought to the boil for up to 12 hours without the use of additional fuel or electricity.  It provides communities with greener, safer and more reliable energy to cook their everyday meals.

As a solution to offset the carbon emissions generated through the Peninsula’s meeting rooms and conference facilities, caused by the need for lighting, cleaning, catering, heating, cooling and travelling, for every conference booked the Peninsula will donate Wonderbags to families in need through the Climate Neutral Groups Green Dreams project.

In doing so they are not only neutralising and reducing their carbon footprint but significantly contributing towards the life conditions of vulnerable communities across Africa, empowering them to progress by creating a safer and healthier environment.

Carbon Credits

The Wonderbag project is registered under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), thereby allowing companies to credibly offset their carbon emissions whilst making a sustainable social impact in South Africa. The Wonderbag’s environmental impact is measured and monitored by internal and external researchers and audited by independent auditors as required by the VCS guidelines.

The Peninsula All-suite Hotel is managed as a professional and environmentally conscious business and will continue to identify areas of opportunity to decrease their carbon footprint and bring forward change. They will stock the Wonderbag at the hotel to guests or conferencing delegates who wish to make a difference.

Would you also like to offer climate neutral conference facilities at your hotel? Click here for more information or contact Nishanthi Lambrichs at nishanthi.lambrichs@climateneutralgroup.com

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting rules a fact

5/4/17 (InfrastructureNews) – South Africa’s National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Regulations were implemented by environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa in April 2017. The first reporting deadline is 31 March 2018.

The regulations aim to introduce a single national reporting system for the transparent reporting of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, which will be used predominantly to update and maintain a National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

It will also be used to assist South Africa in meeting its international obligations in relation to climate change mitigation. Law firm Webber Wentzel has compiled a breakdown of the new regulations, including how the regulations work in practice and what they mean for you.

An integrated GHG reporting system

The rationale for an integrated Greenhouse Gas Emissions reporting system is based on the imminent imposition of the carbon tax for identified affected sectors in South Africa. These sectors will be identified based on their GHG emission concentrations.

The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Regulations are one of the implementation tools which will be used to regulate the reporting of data and information from identified point, non-point and mobile sources of atmospheric emissions to the National Air Emission Inventory System (NAEIS) with a view to compiling atmospheric emission inventories to inform the proposed carbon tax.

Although still in draft form, the declaration of GHGs as priority air pollutants (which will require persons conducting an activity within a designated GHG emission threshold to prepare a pollution prevention plan in accordance with the proposed National Pollution Prevention Plans Regulations) will, once finalised, and when combined with the GHG Reporting Regulations, complete the regulatory regime for the mandatory reporting of air emissions to the NAEIS housed on the South African Air Quality Information System.  This all means that the dominos are slowly being lined up for the carbon tax to be formalised.

How will the GHG Reporting Regulations work in practice?

The GHG Regulations differentiate between Category A data providers (which include persons controlling or conducting activities which emit GHGs) and Category B data providers (which include public bodies and academic/research institutions which hold GHG emission data for the purposes of calculating GHG emissions).

These data providers are required to report on GHG emissions activities at their facilities in line with the identified categories of emissions sources set out in Annexure 1 to the GHG Reporting Regulations.

The reporting obligations imposed on Category A data providers are more stringent and comprehensive than for those in Category B, as they are based on operational control and must cover all process, fugitive and combustion emissions from all GHG emission sources and source streams belonging to listed activities.

The methods for reporting GHG emissions data are set out in the “Technical Guidelines for Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Industry” for each tier specifying the relevant emission sources.

Category A data providers must submit the GHG emissions and activity data for all of their facilities and in accordance with the data and format requirements specified in Annexure 3 for each preceding calendar year, to the competent authority by 31 March of each year (or the next working day). The competent authority has 60 days following a submission to approve a Category A data provider’s data or to request that such data be validated and verified. Category B data providers, on the other hand, must submit emissions and activity data collected only when requested to do so by the competent authority.

What does this mean for you?

At this stage, all designated data providers, whether Category A or Category B, will be required to register their facilities on the NAEIS or with the competent authority where activities at their facilities exceed the thresholds listed in Annexure 1 by 7 May 2017 or within 30 days after commencing such an activity if at a later stage.

Webber Wentzel said it is a criminal offence for a data provider to provide false or misleading information to the competent authority or to fail to comply with its registration, reporting and record-keeping obligations as set out in the GHG Reporting Regulations.