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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.”

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INVITE: Carbon Tax Essentials breakfast event

We invite you to our “Carbon Tax Essentials” business breakfast on 12 April 2018 (08:00-10:00) at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton.

The regulation of carbon emissions in South Africa is advancing rapidly and is becoming increasingly complex. This includes the publication of the GHG Reporting Regulations in April 2017, the publication of the Pollution Prevention Plans Regulations in July 2017, and more recently, the release of the Carbon Tax Bill in December 2017 which is set to come into effect 1 January 2019.

Comments from the public on the Draft Carbon Tax Bill included that it is complex and therefore it remains a challenge for organisations to assess the impact on their bottom-line. This interactive seminar will focus on assisting companies to understand the implications of South Africa’s proposed carbon tax and offset legislation.

Climate Neutral Group will host a breakfast-workshop at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton on 12 April (08:00-10:00) during which it will present all essential carbon tax elements companies and organisations should understand. Participants are then invited to engage in an informal discussion about the topic, allowing them to identify concerns and ask questions on carbon tax-related matters.

These essential topics include the various carbon tax allowances that exist, what companies must consider in order to benefit from the Carbon Tax, and what mechanisms exist to reduce their tax liability.

Other topics on the agenda include a brief analysis of the various financial and tax implications, which greenhouse gas-emitting activities result in carbon tax payments, and the relationship between the proposed carbon tax and the GHG Reporting Regulations. We will also have a closer look at how offsets can reduce a company’s carbon tax liability. Finally, we will demonstrate various ways on how companies can calculate their carbon tax obligation.

Speakers:
•    Franz Rentel, Country Director South Africa, Climate Neutral Group
•    Silvana Claassen, Senior Carbon Advisor, Climate Neutral Group

Date:      12 April 2018
Time:      08:00-10:00 (arrival 07:45 for 08:00)
Venue:    The Duke Room, The Maslow Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg

* the conference facilities at The Maslow Hotel are climate neutral. All emissions generated by the venue have been offset with our Wonderbag carbon offset project

Please note: seating is limited to 20 people. Please RSVP early to avoid disappointment.
Cost: R350 (ex VAT) / person. CNG clients: Free.

REGISTER NOW

Media: please email us!

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Deadline GHG Emission Reporting: 31 March!

The National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations came into effect on 3 April 2017, with the first submission deadline being set for 31 March 2018. The purpose of these regulations is to allow the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to gather information from businesses to assist South Africa to update and maintain a National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This is a requirement under the Paris Climate Agreement, which South Africa ratified in November 2016.

The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions companies report will be used as the basis for their carbon tax calculations. Companies, in control of certain GHG emitting activities and which exceed a predetermined threshold, will be required to submit GHG emission data in a format prescribed by the Regulations. The calculations of their emissions must be done in line with Technical Guidelines. These were published with the Regulations. Companies should note that the calculation methodologies in these Technical Guidelines differ from the conventional corporate calculation methodologies as GHG Protocol Corporate Standard and ISO14064.

STEPS YOUR COMPANY SHOULD TAKE NOW: 

  1. Determine whether it is in control of an activity listed in Annexure 1 of the Regulations,
  2. Determine whether the installed capacity, associated with that activity, exceeds the indicated threshold. If so, register your company and familiarise yourself with the NAEIS portal. Report your emissions by 31 March 2018 (as per the National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations). This is mandatory.
  3. The emissions reported to the Department of Environmental Affairs are the exact same emissions that will be subject to carbon tax payments. The carbon tax act should be effective from 1 January 2019. This means your company will pay carbon taxes to SARS over the emissions generated in the 2019 calendar year.
  4. Start planning now as to how to reduce your company’s possible future carbon tax exposure. You could look at ways to lower your operations’ GHG emissions through technological interventions. You could also think about offsetting, known as investing in carbon offsets.

Do you need more information? Please download our Mandatory GHG Reporting Factsheet!

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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.”

Research debunks carbon offsetting myths

What are the main myths are carbon offsetting? The Unlocking Potential/State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2017: Buyers’ Analysis has listed four of them and proceeded to debunk them.

CARBON OFFSETTING MYTH 1: Companies that buy offsets are just buying their way out of their obligations.

Our research shows the opposite: companies are purchasing offsets as one of many ways to fulfil their carbon reduction obligations. Those companies that do buy offsets are doing so as part of an overall carbon management strategy and they mostly use offsets to tackle emissions they can’t eliminate internally. Some companies, like Disney and Microsoft, have created an internal “price on carbon,” where the company charges itself for every ton of carbon it produces and uses that income to purchase offsets. The idea is that incorporating carbon into the company’s bottom line will focus attention on emissions and accelerate reductions.

MYTH 2: Offsets don’t represent real reductions. 

In the early days of carbon markets in the early 2000’s, voluntary offset quality was a mixed bag—some projects were well-planned and some were not. A few unscrupulous “carbon cowboys” made headlines after their offsets were found to be double-counted or illegitimate. But carbon markets have come a long way since then. Carbon standards require developers to demonstrate that their emissions are:

MYTH 3: Offsetting barely makes a dent—it’s not sufficient for the large-scale change we need.

This one might be sort of true, but that’s because offsets are designed to be part of an overall reduction strategy and not a substitute for one. Companies surveyed in the report typically offset less than 2% of their total emissions, usually because they’re using offsets to compensate for just one segment of that total, like employee travel or the carbon footprint of a single product. Even the small percentage, however, represents a tangible impact on the climate. As more companies sign on to initiatives like the Science-Based Targets or the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), the percentage of emissions they offset may go up.

MYTH 4: Offsetting is niche or arcane.

A lot of prominent brands use offsetting, including household names like General Motors, Delta Air Lines, and Microsoft, all of whom were among the top five buyers on the voluntary market in 2014.

Of the nearly 2,000 companies who publicly disclosed emissions data to CDP in 2014, 248 (17%) invested in projects to reduce carbon emissions outside of their immediate operations.

Of the 140 MtCO2e in offsets reported to the CDP, companies purchased nearly 40 MtCO2e (with the remaining companies either producing offsets for sale externally or offsetting internally within their supply chain). This is equal to the carbon sequestered by 1 billion tree seedlings grown over 10 years.

Would you like to know how to, incorporate Carbon offsetting into your business, contact Nishanthi on nishanthi.lambrichs@climateneutralgroup.com

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Green Drinks 2017: celebrating eco-transport

October 2017 was Transport Month in South Africa. In line with the occasion, the recent Green Drinks Cape Town event held on 28th September at GreenCape, highlighted and celebrated all modes of eco transport – from bicycles and electric scooters to carpooling and using your feet.

Like many other countries in the world, the transport sector in South Africa has a high carbon footprint and is, therefore, a key driver of climate change. “Transport in South Africa consumes the most energy of all sectors,” explained Khanyiselo Kumalo, Sustainable Transport Analyst at GreenCape, who kicked off our special EcoMobility Green Drinks event. The gathering took place a month ago at the offices of GreenCape, which was established to promote the development of the green economy in the Western Cape.Kumalo added 40% of the Rainbow Nation’s emissions are due to from how people, goods, and products travel from A to B. Personal transport is a key culprit. “54% of commuters use their own cars for regular travel,” he said, noting that besides emissions this causes traffic jams.

Driving change with EcoMobility

This is where EcoMobility comes in, a term used to describe travel through integrated, socially inclusive, and environmentally friendly options. This includes walking, cycling, public transport and other climate-friendly innovative ways of moving around including electric forms of transport.
“Our electric scooters are clean, green, and cost-effective,” said Andy Le May, Founder and CEO Ewizz Electric Scooters, in his presentation. “They produce zero emissions and need zero petrol and zero oil. Electrics are our inevitable transportation future.”

Fighting traffic jams and emissions

Tech entrepreneur Chris Megan added that to reduce transport-related emissions and traffic jams, we also need to relook the way we are using our personal cars. “Cape Town has the worst congested roads in South Africa,” he said, noting that the Mother City’s CBD has to absorb 260,000 cars every day.

That is why he developed uGoMyWay, a carpooling and lift-sharing application that connects drivers and passengers to share rides and associated costs. Megan: “The only sustainable solution to emissions and congestion is to have significantly fewer private vehicles on our road.”

Fewer cars, better streets

Marcela Guerrero Casas said she agreed that carpooling is a step in the right direction. However, the best way to reduce emissions and congestion is for people to walk or cycle where they can. Her social venture Open Streets Cape Town aims to sensitize Capetonians into that direction by changing how they use, perceive and experience the streets around them.

The organisation does this by regularly closing off parts of the Cape Town for motorised vehicles, transforming them into open spaces for pedestrians. “We believe streets should enable safer and more cohesive communities, provide platforms for creative expression of local cultures and values, serve as places for recreation and social interaction, and provide choice in how we move around the city,” Guerro Casas said. “By embracing the concept of Open Streets Cape Town, all of us can create shared places that embody respect for all and help bridge the social and spatial divides of our city.”

More talks followed, including a presentation by David Parry-Davies, editor of Enviropedia magazine, about the 2018 Eco-Logic Awards and a snapshot on the economics of decarbonising transport in South Africa by Tara Caetano, Energy Economist at the University of Cape Town.

According to Franz Rentel, one of the Organisers of Green Drinks Cape Town and director of Climate Neutral Group in South Africa, The Special edition of Green Drinks was a huge success.  “Some of the talks were true eye-openers,” he said, adding that the fact that the event was well-attended can be seen a great sign. “We had people from all walks of life and all industries attending. It shows that the concept of EcoMobility, in a world that is dominated by fossil fuels, is becoming an increasingly important priority. This is a fantastic step forward!”

Words: Miriam Mannak, Social Media and Content / Climate Neutral Group in South Africa, 24 October 2017

ABOUT GREEN DRINKS CAPE TOWN: Green Drinks is part of the Green Drinks International movement. Now active in 600 cities worldwide as a casual, unstructured event that brings together environmentally-minded Capetonians for a relaxed, agenda-free evening of networking and great conversations. Whether you have been working in the environmental and sustainability fields for a while or are a newcomer: this is your chance to meet like-minded people who are working for NGOs, government and business as well as academia and researchers to share information and make new friends. Although Green Drinks Cape Town aims to be an organic and casual event, it tends to lead to new synergies of ideas and new business connections. Attending the event could even lead to landing your new dream job! 

 Next Green Drinks: 26 October at Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar, Cape Town CBD. Bring your friends, thoughts and ideas: everyone is welcome!