Meet more of the good cops

2011-12-10 13:32

They came from all over the world to negotiate a clean green deal to shape our future. Yet COP17 organisers estimate the carbon footprint of the conference alone could be 15 000 tons – equal to that emitted by about 1 200 South African households – and this does not include flights.

The eThekwini City Council plans to offset this through an ecosystem rehabilitation project in the uMbilo catchment, west of Durban.

We asked a few delegates what they were doing to live greener.

» Australian environmental activist Fiona Armstrong quit her corporate job to join green NGO Climate and Health Alliance. Then she changed her lifestyle to become as carbon neutral as possible. “I drive a scooter,” she says, “and I only buy organic produce.”

Armstrong kitted out her house with a recycling system and she only buys energy-efficient appliances. She travels extensively and is all too aware that this adds to her “carbon crimes”.

“I offset all my flights as a matter of principle by buying the necessary offset vouchers, either from the airlines themselves or from an offset company,” she says.

This money is then invested in carbon neutral projects such as planting trees.

Carbon offsets are typically calculated by determining the amount of greenhouse gas a flight gives off in tons. An average flight between Cape Town and Joburg would emit 0.26 tons of carbon per passenger and could be offset at R48, while a flight from Joburg to London would cost the green-conscious passenger about R400.

» In South Africa, Flight Centre has teamed up with an organisation called Cleaner Climate to allow travellers to offset their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from air travel.

Cleaner Climate then invests the money in a greenhouse gas-reducing wind farm in India. Airlines such as Virgin and British Airlines offer direct offset services when you buy a ticket.

» American delegate Tamara Plush from the NGO Care International now lives in Vietnam. She sold her car and now cycles everywhere. “Trading my car for a bike was one of the best decisions I ever made,” she said.

» Australian banker Rosemary Bisset offsets her flights as soon as she buys her ticket. But her biggest green makeover was to retro-fit her house. “My house renovation was all about becoming greener.“ 

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