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Japan Invests $1.8 Million in Sustainable Plastic Alternatives Project in South Africa

The Government of Japan and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) have signed a funding agreement for a project to support a transition from conventional plastics to sustainable alternatives in South Africa.

The Government of Japan announced the funding support of US$1.8m for the UNIDO project during the G20 Osaka summit in June when the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, held a summit meeting with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. The initiative supports the G20’s Blue Ocean Vision which aims to reduce additional pollution by marine plastic litter to zero by 2050.

There are ongoing efforts to develop a local bioplastic industry in South Africa. The South African Bioplastics Forum was established in 2016 as a result of a joint initiative of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology (DHEST), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Plastics SA. The country has large amounts of sugar cane bagasse and other biomass feedstocks suitable for bioplastics; and an emerging bioplastics industry has the potential to create new jobs.

UNIDO will work with the CSIR to develop an action plan to strengthen the capacity of local industry to manufacture alternative materials, and build up capacities for plastic recycling.

Recently, bio-degradable plastics have gained attention as one approach to deal with the scourge of plastic pollution. However, when bringing new materials onto the market, particular attention needs to be paid to ensuring that the overall environmental footprint is not increased and that new types of waste are not created that cannot be recycled and that increase the amount of waste; or hindering efforts to increase circularity. The project will help to assess all possible scenario and choose appropriate material for South African contexts, and will suggest necessary steps needed to set up an enabling environment.

At the project launch ceremony, Japan’s Ambassador to South Africa, Norio Maruyama, said that the signing ceremony marked the concrete achievement of what was discussed at the G20 in June 2019. He emphasized the importance of the collaboration of South African companies in the project.

Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) referred to the key objectives of South Africa’s National Development Plan, and said “The dti welcomes the support by the Japanese government and the partnership between UNIDO and the CSIR, since biodegradable plastics are just being introduced locally.”

The CSIR representative, Khungeka Njobe, said, “We look forward to partnering with government and industry in addressing the very important issue of waste plastic.”

Khaled El Mekwad, UNIDO Representative, said, “Such an initiative will be a model of good practice which can be disseminated to other countries in the SADC region. The experience acquired by South Africa could be extended to neighbouring countries where the triangular cooperation model with UNIDO and Japan may be replicated and adapted to the local development set-up.”

Trudi Makhaya, Economic Advisor to President Cyril Ramaphosa, welcomed this initiative. She said, “We hope that from this partnership there is agreement that there will be a lot of innovation but also a lot of practical applications of the innovations to new industries and new forms of economic activity that are inclusive, that take communities along, and that ensure that this new economy does not reproduce some of the flaws of the past.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Brian Yurasits [1], [2].

New South African Carbon Tax Signed Into Law; Effective June 1st

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Carbon Tax Act into law and it will come into effect on June 1, the National Treasury said on Sunday.

The Act was gazetted on May 23, together with the Customs and Excise Amendment Act, the Treasury said in a statement.

“Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges facing humankind, and the primary objective of the carbon tax is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a sustainable, cost effective, and affordable manner. Government has outlined its strong commitment to play its part in global efforts to mitigate GHG emissions as outlined in the National Climate Change Response Policy (NCCRP) of 2011 and the National Development Plan (NDP) of 2012,” the Treasury said.

The Carbon Tax Act gave effect to the polluter-pays principle for large emitters and helped to ensure that firms and consumers took the negative adverse costs (externalities) into account in their future production, consumption, and investment decisions.

Firms were incentivised to adopt cleaner technologies over the next decade and beyond. The carbon tax would initially only apply to scope one emitters, from June 1 to December 31, 2022, and the second phase from 2023 to 2030.

The World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s GHG Protocol Corporate Standard classifies a company’s GHG emissions into three ‘scopes’. Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy. Scope 3 emissions are all indirect emissions (not included in scope 2) that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions. Product life cycle emissions are all the emissions associated with the production and use of a specific product, from cradle to grave, including emissions from raw materials, manufacture, transport, storage, sale, use and disposal.

The design of the carbon tax also provided significant tax-free emission allowances ranging from 60 percent to 95 percent in this first phase. This included a basic tax-free allowance of 60 percent for all activities, a 10 percent process and fugitive emissions allowance, a maximum 10 percent allowance for companies using carbon offsets to reduce their tax liability, a performance allowance of up to five percent for companies reducing the emissions intensity of their activities, a five percent carbon budget allowance for complying with the reporting requirements, and a maximum 10 percent allowance for trade exposed sectors.

“The introduction of the carbon tax will also not have any impact on the price of electricity for the first phase. This will result in a relatively modest carbon tax rate ranging from R6 to R48 per tonne of CO2 equivalent emitted… to further provide current significant emitters time to transition their operations to cleaner technologies through investments in energy efficiency, renewables, and other low carbon measures,” the Treasury said.

A review of the impact of the tax would be conducted before the second phase, after at least three years of implementation of the tax, and would take into account progress made to reduce GHG emissions. Future changes to rates and tax-free thresholds in the Carbon Tax would follow after the review, and be subject to the normal transparent and consultative processes for all tax legislation, after any appropriate Budget announcements by the Minister of Finance.

The 2019 Customs and Excise Amendment Act and Memorandum on the objects of the Act contained provisions related to the administrative arrangements for the collection of carbon tax revenues by the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

“It was split from the Carbon Tax Act as a separate Act for technical legal reasons related to money bills not containing administrative provisions in terms of section 77 of the Constitution,” the Treasury said.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Roman Khripkov [1], [2].

New Research Study Looks to Empower Namibian Communities to Champion Environmental Conservation

Namibian Environmental Awareness Training (NEAT) has just launched a three-month research project in the Kunene region in northwest Namibia to understand the relationship and interactions between rural communities and the regions’ iconic nature and wildlife. This study will allow NEAT to develop tailored environmental education programmes for schools and communities, to empower them to actively engage in and benefit from nature conservation.

The Kunene region is one of Namibia’s last wildernesses and home to rare desert-adapted elephants, rhinos and lions, as well as numerous other endangered species. Himba, Herero, Damara, San people and many other indigenous communities also live in the region, often in remote villages and in direct contact with nature and wild animals.

Rural livelihoods often depend on natural resources and are affected by human-wildlife conflict or environmental disasters such as droughts. Wildlife populations are also under pressure, facing threats from habitat loss and illegal poaching. NEAT’s research and education programme will address these issues together, recognising that human prosperity and biodiversity conservation are inextricably linked.

NEAT started the research study on Sunday, 3rd March 2019. Over the coming three months, a team of four conservationists and educators will visit eight different communities from across the entire Kunene region and interview adults, children and school teachers. Two experienced UK-based scientists will assist with data analysis. The results will be shared with Namibian school directors and the Minister of Education, who have already expressed their interest in this study.

The project is led by NEAT founder Steven Maseka, an award-winning Namibian environmentalist who previously worked in Namibia’s world-renowned Community Based Natural Resources Management programme and featured in the 2018 BBC documentary Pangolins – The World’s Most Wanted Animal.

The first phase of the project is supported by crowdfunding, and you can help immensely by donating here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], Richard van Wijngaarden [2].

Egypt’s Benban Solar Park Set to Become World’s Largest Solar Installation

Benban Solar Park is a photovoltaic power station currently under construction in Benban (around 650 km south of Cairo, Egypt), with a planned total capacity of 1650 MWp, which corresponds to an annual production of approximately 3,8 TWh. Once completed, Benban will be the largest solar installation in the world.

Until recently, Egypt’s government spent more on electricity subsidies than it spent on education, health care, and social welfare combined. But three years ago, officials launched a World Bank Group-supported program designed to reform the power sector and encourage investment from private companies.

Six million solar panels later, the Benban Solar Park—more than 32 contiguous solar projects across 36 square kilometers of Egyptian desert—is poised to become the largest solar installation in the world. It will generate over 2,000 megawatts of power a year, lighting up hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

But the benefits don’t stop there. Once operational, Benban is expected to avoid 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking about 400,000 cars off the road. will create 4,000 jobs in southern Egypt, where unemployment is high, especially among young people.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, spearheaded the financing package, marshalling $653 million in loans from a consortium of nine international banks.

The World Bank supported reforms to Egypt’s electricity sector and provided the country with a $3 billion loan, while the Multilateral Investment and Guarantee Agency (MIGA), another institution of the World Bank Group, provided $210 million worth of political risk insurance to encourage private lenders to invest.

IFC has also been managing the requirements of such a transformational initiative. Its Environmental and Social Performance Standards have guided occupational health and safety measures, transportation risk, labor, solid waste and waste water management, and water management. It has supported the capacity-building of individual sponsors, their contractors and subcontractors, and the company responsible for providing operational services for the park.

For more information about energy in Egypt, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Plant Dome Planned for Cape Town CBD

Luthuli Plaza, in Cape Town’s CBD, is set to undergo a significant redesign at the hands of LOLA Architects and Design Indaba.

The plaza, named after South African Nobel Peace Prize winning struggle stalwart, Albert Luthuli, was built as a way of connecting the transport hub where people catch taxis, trains and busses to the Artscape precinct. But now the Luthuli Plaza stands gray and mostly unused.

Rotterdam-based landscape architect Peter Veenstra, in collaboration with bamboo builder Olav Bruin of Nomadic Resorts, is planning to revamp the plaza. The redesign will include an urban public garden that starts at the Cape Town taxi rank and ends at the Artscape Theatre. A Dome of Plants will form a centerpiece of the garden.

The dome is intended to serve as a beacon of sustainable design for the city, and be a functional venue where public forums, lectures, and performances can take place.

It will be constructed with natural materials such as bamboo, wood and fynbos plants like Spekboom which is known for its hardiness and ability to convert carbon dioxide into clean oxygen. Cape Town is in a water crisis, and Veenstra says the dome will be fed by purified urine from the bureaucrats working in the Cape Town Civic Centre building, right behind the dome’s proposed location.

Inside this vegetated shelter, there will be 175 square meters of indoor space, complete with amphitheatre-style seating, stage and podium. Together they offer space for discussions, events, workshops, exhibitions, meetings, lunch and a quick coffee outside the big institutions, accessible for everyone.

It is an attractive venue that can contribute to the cultural life of Cape Town. At night, the site will transform, casting a soft green glow on Luthuli Plaza. The designers aim to revitalize this part of Cape Town and bestow it with a meaningful purpose for citizens to enjoy throughout the year.

For more information on and pictures of the project, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources: Design Indaba [1], [2].