Proposed carbon tax looms for SA business

Xolisa Phillip

SOUTH Africa’s proposed carbon tax is inching closer and businesses in Nelson Mandela Bay are being encouraged to take a proactive stance to limit the city’s carbon footprint.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber’s greening business task team has launched a web-based self-assessment tool to aid enterprises, both small and large, to measure their carbon footprint.

Green Leaf technical manager Daniel Burgon, who is on the task team, said: “The carbon tax comes into effect on January 1 2015. We want 2014 to be the year during which businesses prepare themselves for what is coming.”

The tool is available to chamber members at no charge and measures waste, energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy management.

Once a business has loaded its consumption-related information for assessment, it obtains a score that informs it where it stands in terms of its use of resources. Task team chairman and Green Leaf chief executive Andrew Phillips said the tool was confidential and would be a stepping stone in efforts to broaden business’s understanding of efficient resource use.

Explaining the dynamics of the green economy and its thinking, Phillips said: “This is not about hugging trees or protesting, but it is about being a good corporate citizen.”

He identified three areas in which the task team had been working towards shaping a green outlook in the Bay: thinking in terms of behaviour, living and linking new developments to opportunities.

Both men cautioned against the government’s proposed carbon tax, saying the current economic climate was not conducive to its introduction.

“There is also talk of introducing a vehicle carbon tax, so does that mean we will be faced with the prospect of a double tax?” Phillips asked.

They also said the white paper on the carbon tax did not outline who would implement the scheme and where and how funds collected would be used. They were in agreement that, in its present form, the carbon tax document was vague and left many questions unanswered.

Although both Phillips and Burgon conceded South Africa was the continent’s biggest polluter, they said it also had a myriad of social challenges it had to address before it could embark on a carbon tax path.

The chamber is hosting a presentation on the self-assessment tool tomorrow. There will be another session on November 7. The self-assessment tool will be available in the next five days. Its use would not result in any form of certification, Phillips said.

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