Greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction has become one of the most significant challenges facing our current and future generations. The higher the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, the higher its contribution to climate change. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. CO2 is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the earth's carbon cycle. However, human activities are significantly altering the carbon cycle by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere while also reducing the effectiveness of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
It is in the planet’s best interest that all governments implement legislation and policies to encourage responsible ‘carbon behaviour’. This presents a unique dilemma for developing countries, like South Africa, to establish environmental initiatives while also addressing the socio-economic complexities such as unemployment and poverty. In South Africa, the need for carbon footprint analysis is becoming more relevant.
The South African government plans to introduce a carbon tax, on 1 January 2015, with the intention of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by the year 2020 and 42% by 2025. Initially, it is proposed that 60% of emissions will be tax-exempt for certain industries until 2020 thus providing businesses with more time to adapt to low carbon alternatives. Government has proposed a carbon tax of R120 per ton of CO2e (carbon equivalent) on Scope 1 emissions. Scope 1 emissions relate primarily to an organisation’s electricity consumption and transportation costs. The applicable greenhouse gases are CO2, methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), and Nitrogen Trifluoride (NF3).
The proposed carbon tax will create incentives for organisations and individuals to change their attitude towards energy consumption and their reliance on fossil fuels. It is therefore important that companies understand their risk exposure related to the proposed carbon tax as the financial implications could be significant. The responsibility in knowing your carbon footprint is therefore crucial.
To determine your organisation’s carbon footprint, please feel free to contact NS Environmental for a professional carbon footprint analysis!