The first steps to sustainability


With an influx of environmental, energy and compliance legislation coming in the next 18 months, local companies face a regulatory minefield when it comes to planning their sustainability roadmaps.

Measuring a company’s carbon footprint is the first step to managing its climate change risks and opportunities, notes Incite Sustainability MD, Jonathon Hanks.

Given the basics of any ‘greening’ programme is ‘measure in order to manage’, this month The Green Mile provides a brief outline* of the local carbon emissions reporting landscape, why it matters, and what it means for South African businesses.

Following this initial overview, subsequent features will explore some of the common strategies for employing environmentally sustainable practices, what they involve and what the impacts are.
At the heart of the issue is the force that drives our economies – energy, and the associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that come from generating and using it. As one of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHG) produced by burning fossil fuels, CO2 has received the bulk of attention due to its powerful warming effect and increasing concentration in the atmosphere.
As a result, human-induced CO2 emissions have become a focus for government and industry, as the main driver of global temperature increases and consequent climatic changes. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s authoritative Fourth Assessment Report paints a bleak picture for Africa. Given the low resilience of the continent’s infrastructure and vulnerability of its populations, it is one of the regions likely to suffer the worst from anticipated droughts, floods, and land degradation.
As local commentators point out, this is not merely a socio-development issue, but strikes at the heart of business continuity and survival.
Jonathon Hanks, MD of local consultancy Incite Sustainability, says adaptation is set to become an increasingly significant concern. “It is now increasingly unlikely that the goal to limit the increase in global average temperatures to 2°C (from pre-industrial levels) will be reached.
“It is anticipated that the likely emissions pathway is a 3.2°C increase by 2100 at best, with some suggesting even an increase between four and six degrees is likely,” he adds. “This will leave South African businesses in one of the areas likely to face severe adaptation challenges, with significant risks.”
Hanks points out risks are not only over the longer term, but will increasingly be felt over the short and medium term: “Both in terms of needing to adapt to the physical impacts of climate change, as well as adapting to changing international market expectations regarding, for example, products with high carbon-intensity.“

Upcoming courses
14 Sept:  JHB – GCX Carbon Literacy Course
15 – 17 Sept: JHB – GCX Carbon Footprint Analyst Course
05 Oct:  Cape Town – GCX Carbon Literacy Course
06 – 08 Oct:  Durban – GCX Carbon Footprint Analyst Course
26 – 27 Oct:  Cape Town – Residential Eco Auditor
08 – 10 Nov: Cape Town – GCX Carbon Footprint Analyst Course
29 Oct – 1 Dec: JHB – GCX Energy Efficiency Assessor Course NEW!
29 Oct – 1 Dec:
Cape Town – Carbon Footprint Analyst 2 Course NEW!
01 – 02 Dec:
Cape Town – Residential Eco Auditor

Posted by Southern African Alternative Energy Association (SAAEA) in the interest of conserving the environment.

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