You can act on climate change!

Climate change is now the most urgent issue that affects us all and will impact seriously on the quality of life of our children and grandchildren, and the environments that they will have to live in. As the world wakes up to climate change threats Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), who has been offsetting emissions and concerned with this since 1990, developed the first South African calculator. This uses the iGlobal Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Protocols and provides a high level carbon footprint estimation.

Our message is MEASURE, REDUCE and then OFFSET. Through using this calculator you will become more aware of the impacts of your lifestyle choices, events, venues, office buildings, business processes and industries.

Reduce what you can and offset the rest!

Knowing your footprint is the first step on the road to saving costs and a lower carbon future.  So what can you do? Here are few suggestions:

  • Turn off the lights when you don’t need them and fit energy saving light bulbs
  • Open the windows and switch off the aircons
  • Switch off your computer and other appliances when not in use, at the plug point
  • Switch to solar power
  • Walk, cycle or use public transport where possible
  • Drive slower, it is safer and uses less fuel, thus less emissions
  • Buy locally produced items and organic food
  • Avoid packaging where possible
  • Request your bills electronically and pay on line
  • Reduce paper usage and recycle as much as possible
  • There are several ways to offset your carbon dioxide emissions. One of these is planting trees.
  • There are several ways to offset your carbon dioxide emissions. One of these is planting trees. Apart from absorbing carbon dioxide, planting of these trees also contributes to a host of environmental, economic and social benefits for these communities as you can see on this website.

Reduce what you can and offset the rest!

Knowing your footprint is therefore the first step.  What to do about it is next and although reducing the footprint is the next active step you can already start to offset your baseline.  This awareness has resulted in companies and individuals who have used this Carbon Calculator, and worked with FTFA to plant trees, initiating emission reduction programmes. These include installing an auto switch off program for airconditioners and lights in office buildings, increasing paper recycling in branch offices, further reducing energy consumption by changing to energy saving light bulbs and even rationalizing travel.

To address global warming requires lifestyle and business changes that all of us can make. Here are some simple things you can do:

  • Turn off the lights when you don’t need them and fit energy saving light bulbs
  • Open the windows and switch off the aircons
  • Switch off your computer and other appliances when not in use, at the plug point
  • Switch to solar power
  • Walk, cycle or use public transport where possible
  • Drive slower, it is safer and uses less fuel, thus less emissions
  • Buy locally produced items and organic food
  • Avoid packaging where possible
  • Request your bills electronically and pay on line
  • Reduce paper usage and recycle as much as possible
  • There are several ways to offset your carbon dioxide emissions. One of these is planting trees.

The Carbon Standard provides a measurable way of planting trees that grow and absorb some carbon dioxide.  Apart from absorbing carbon dioxide, planting of these trees also contributes to a host of environmental, economic and social benefits for these communities as you can see on this website.

How the FTFA carbon calculator works?

The calculator asks you to input your annual consumption for travel – local, national and international air travel (in terms of duration as long medium and short flights have different emission factors), local and national car travel.  These are international IPCC default factors.  In order to have a practical and easy calculator the calculations are based on a medium sized petrol car.  In accordance with the definitions and factors from the GHG Protocol Mobile Combustion Tool this car would emit 0.22 kg CO2 per km.   In an average company some employees would drive smaller and others larger cars. A medium sized car would closely approximate the overall picture.  This emission factor cannot be applied to off road agricultural or delivery vehicles.  Please follow the principles of the GHG reporting protocol (now also available as SANS 14064-1:2006 Specification with guidance at the organizational level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals) to guide you should you/your company need a comprehensive calculation. Should a detailed inventory be needed company specific petrol and diesel consumptions and emissions will be used.  For the high level estimation only distances are required and international accepted emission factors are used.

Input your electricity usage. In South Africa the electricity for the national grid is mainly provided by Eskom’s 2009 report as 1.03 CO2 Emission factor.  This is an audited figure that is updated annually.

Then input your paper usage from monthly or annual purchase. In South Africa paper production is done via dedicated forests owned and managed by the paper and pulp manufacturers.  Paper manufacturers plant on average 3 trees for every tree cut down.  The trees vs. paper calculation is added for interest and is not added to the total footprint or offset.  This is in accordance with international reporting principles.

Using these figures the calculator will estimate your carbon footprint for the year, as well as the number of trees it will take to sink the carbon dioxide for these activities FTFA will plant the necessary number of trees with your donation to offset your carbon dioxide emissions through its Trees for All and Trees for Homes programmes. As trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide (one of the most important greenhouse gases) from the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen through photosynthesis. The process of trapping carbon dioxide in forests, soils, geological formations and other carbon dioxide “sinks” is called carbon dioxide sequestration.

In addition to sinking greenhouse gases that cause climate change, these new urban forests provide other benefits to the communities and the environment as described elsewhere on this site. They also help to protect water quality, restore wildlife habitats and enhance public recreation areas.

Various academic studies indicated that an average indigenous tree planted in an average urban environment in South Africa absorbs carbon dioxide exponentially as it grow and over a period of about 15 years on average 500kg of carbon dioxide is stored per tree.  Although these trees will not be cut down after the fifteen year period it was decided, in order to remain conservative, to use these figures for the high level estimate.  For site specific carbon dioxide sequestration studies FTFA can refer applicants.

FTFA has qualified carbon assessors on staff and can assist companies wishing to do more in depth assessments and audits that factor in various other issues such as recycling, vegetation already on their properties, sustainable energy inputs etc.

The GHG Protocol aims 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. This protocol has been converted into a standard (SANS ISO 14064-1:2006 Part 1: specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals

Click here to access the carbon calculator

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