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.