Friday, 02 December 2011

Carbon neutral flying to King Shaka Airport for COP17

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As the world engages in one of the most important Conferences of the Parties, we can only hope that a much needed deal comes out of this, the 17thmeeting on climate change. In the face of climate change, and specifically anthropogenic warming due to carbon emissions, the reality of the cost to the environment of delegates, rock stars and world leaders flying in from around the world, cannot be ignored.

However, the legacy of COP17 need not be an enormous carbon footprint. As South Africa’s longest standing climate action and greening social and environmental enterprise, FTFA offers all an opportunity to leave their tree in Africa to help solve this dilemma. ACSA’s King Shaka International Airport in Durban celebrated one year on 1 May. The airport is currently handling almost 5-million passengers annually and with the current trend of an increase in passenger numbers in the past few months the airport is well and truly set as the gateway to Africa for COP17. Passengers arriving at King Shaka International Airport from around the world will not only be able to calculate the carbon emissions generated from their flight but also offset these, as soon as they land.

This can be done easily and efficiently by using the My Tree in Africa carbon calculator, the first South African calculator of its kind! This uses the Global Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocols which aim to harmonize GHG accounting and reporting standards internationally, to ensure that different trading platforms and other climate related initiatives adopt consistent approaches to GHG accounting.

The total carbon emissions produced can then be offset by buying a tree, or trees. Trees act as natural carbon sinks, sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. What’s more, this can all be done straight from visitor’s mobile phones as soon as they land by going to another groundbreaking first, the mytrees.mobi website.

International, or local visitors, wanting to commemorate their time in Durban can go to mytreeinafrica.org from the nearest computer to buy their tree(s). Each purchase comes with a certificate of the specific tree bought which also serves as a reminder of their commitment.

Alternatively, by simply walking straight out of the International arrivals hall at King Shaka and heading for the ACSA FTFA stand, visitors can guarantee that their flight was a carbon neutral one. The friendly people at the FTFA stand will calculate individual carbon emissions as well as the number of trees needed to offset these emissions.

Visitors can also make a pledge on FTFA’s Climatree, a beautiful wire art baobab sponsored by Pick n Pay. By buying a leaf for the Climatree at only R10, individuals can make their own personal climate change pledge. Each leaf represents a commitment towards a lower carbon future. For every 10 leaves added a tree is planted for a disadvantaged community in a barren, dusty township, adjacent to the airport precinct.

The Airports Company of South Africa always strives to give back to the community, and this way it can help spread environmental awareness and change further than its boundaries. ACSA staff will assist FTFA in the planting of the trees purchased during COP 17, in the form of a sponsored team-building event.

While the outcome of COP17 remains uncertain, there is one certainty that visitors can hold on to, that while international leaders may not be able to agree on how to reduce our global carbon emissions, they attended COP17 knowing exactly how to reduce their own.

ACSA and FTFA are working together to leave a green legacy for future generations.

Published in Energy and Environment