Eco friendly insurance launched in SA

Eco friendly insurance has arrived in South Africa. ibuyeco, underwritten by Dial Direct, helps South Africans to offset the environmental impact of their vehicles and homes with an innovative green insurance offering. Developed in response to increasing local demand for environmentally friendly products and services, ibuyeco gives South Africans the tools to help combat global warming and climate change.

According to ibuyeco spokesperson Bradley Du Chenne, policyholders can off-set their personal CO2 footprint through support of an eco trust.

Green insurance has been gaining significant market traction internationally. Offering green car insurance, eco friendly home, buildings and portably possessions cover, ibuyeco has already established a strong footprint in the UK and Australia.

“Why should I buy eco insurance?”

Can’t afford to buy a green car? Why not use your existing insurance overheads to make a tangible difference? With an ibuyeco insurance policy, 2% of your monthly premiums are donated to an eco trust, and you get to choose the carbon offsetting initiative you wish to support.

In addition to the environmentally friendly aspect of the product, the ibuyeco insurance product also offers policyholders quality car, household and mobile items insurance cover. Offering an online sign-up process and efficient claims service, ibuyeco is certainly worth a look if you’re in the market to switch car insurance policies.

Corporate SA and supply chain accountability

The Nineties saw a worldwide increase in consumer awareness about corporate accountability in terms of labour practices and human rights in the workplace.

Non-governmental lobby groups and society itself increasingly started holding corporations accountable for how they created profits, and brands that were caught out for sweat-shopping and trade-zone related labour shortcuts suffered serious reputation damage.

As South Africa prepares for a massive influx of tourists and potential foreign investors in 2010, companies will do well to start planning early for the next regulatory and reputational hurdle: Supply Chain Carbon Accountability.

Brand image vs. labour reality
Household brands, even those as progressive as The Body Shop, have suffered bad publicity on account of dubious chemical usage and animal testing in the past. The brand’s negative exposure was compounded by the fact that
the company had engineered an exceedingly socially accountable brand image from day one.

This child labour scandal compelled the chain and its founder, the late Anita Roddick, to make some serious changes in order to fight loss in market and share value. Their efforts are credited to have helped eradicate child labour, and earned the brand a lasting reputation as an ethical cosmetics retailer and a “force of good” in the world. 

 Similarly, American favourite Kathie Lee Gifford got caught red-handed for sweat-shopping and the use of child labour, and had to clean up her act – virtually overnight.

Outsourcing the problem
In an effort to subvert this Nineties consumer-driven outcry, many companies pointed out that they didn’t employ full-time production workers, in an attempt to shirk responsibility for sub-minimum wages and shocking workplace conditions.

What the consumer says goes
But consumers weren’t having any of it; buying power is as powerful a tool as political voting, and “brand scandals” such as these dramatically curbed exploitative labour practises.  

 NGOs took to using “name and shame” tactics, and companies soon started learning from their competitors’ mistakes.

Further bolstered by more rigorous legal and regulatory restrictions, supply chain accountability became a key consideration in the allocation of tenders and production accounts – both nationally and in foreign jurisdictions.

By the same token, it will only be a matter of time before carbon-neutral production and full supply chain accountability becomes a regulatory requirement, and hence an even greater reputational risk factor for organisations.

Can your organisation afford to be known as a carbon criminal?
Would you really like to find out how your share value will hold up if a respected NGO’s investigation showed that your company – or your supply chain – is the biggest producer of carbon dioxide in your sector or city?

Wouldn’t you rather play it safe and commit to carbon offsetting before your competitors do?

Putting your money where your mouth is pays
In recent years, European countries and corporations have spearheaded a drive towards greater environmental accountability. Big names such as Marks & Spencer, for example are setting the benchmark with a £500 million, 5-year plan to become a 100% carbon-neutral retailer by 2012.

The positive publicity the brand received for addressing the climate crisis has been stupendous.

Your organisation only stands to gain by enforcing carbon accountability in-house and all the way down its supply chain.

Why not become an “early adopter” and build a progressive reputation for your company?

Keep reading SA Climate Crisis for more information on creating an organisational framework for carbon accountability, and be sure to sign up for our carbon-neutral RSS feed.

I can haz Carbon Neutral Music???

A challenge to the Larks, Real Estate Agents, Josie Fields and Love Jones’ of this world.

Rock and roll, in the traditional anti-establishment sense, is dead.

Example: U2’s Bono, with his contrived advocacy sainthood vibe, has spawned a generation of mushy emo rockers that ride crowd vibes and promote things like “Third World Aid”.

Some would argue that rock is far too self-indulgent to change the world fundamentally.

I would say I am inclined to agree.

Music lovers want intelligence AND soul
Beth Orton, an electrofunk/alt-folk heroine with lyrics that hijack your mind and a voice that arrests your senses, is the inspiration behind this post. You’ll recognise her voice from down-tempo collaborations with the Chemical Brothers and William Orbit, the man for all things swish-like.

This woman is the shizniz grandmaster.

Carbon NEUTRAL – not merely “carbon conscious”
All her recent albums have been carbon neutral, which means that a tree is planted in the crummier side of downtown Mexico for every certain number of individual records  produced.

By doing this, she offsets the carbon emissions created when her CDs are pressed and album sleaves and marketing material is printed.

And she’s not advertising this fact.

Support carbon-neutral artists
If you aren’t one of the mentioned musos or their managers, you can still make a difference – simply spend your hard-earned bucks to support carbon-neutral musicians and carbon-conscious events  and music festivals such as Rocking The Daisiesand instead use that wonderful MP3 format to –

Nevermind, I didn’t say that – but do put your moolah where your maws are.

Ayeeght?!

Our No-Smut, Green-Topics-Only Pledge to You
When this blog was started, a conscious editorial decision was made rather not to post at all than to simply rant and rave aimlessly.

 I have been giving a lot of though to how the above-average citizen – yes, that’s YOU – can make a meaningful contribution to decreasing mankind’s collective carbon footprint, and will continue seeking innovative ways of fighting climatic change.

I am taking this issue seriously; if you are too, I’d encourage you to keep reading.

Watch this space.

Suggestions for a low-carbon festive season

As major contributors to global warming, air travel and driving are obvious carbon culprits – yet if you’re reading this blog post, chances are that driving (if nothing else) is virtually a given during the coming holidays.

 Here are some pointers for keeping your carbon footprint as small as possible during the silly season:

Take fewer vehicles on holiday
Splitting petrol between 4 people, rather than 2, costs (wait for it) 50% less, and also brings the group’s fossil fuel consumption down by half! It’s also more sociable, but be sure to pick your company wisely.

Go on a cycling holiday
Companies such as Wylde Ride (wylderide.co.za) can hook you up with a full-on local cycling holiday – so pick a trip that suits your fitness levels, pack the sun tan lotion and get ready for some time in the saddle – it makes for a superb break from the rat race, but you need to book fairly early.

Don’t cruise, RIDE.
Instead of just zipping around the coast or country in your rented Tazz/TT, why not do some of your explorations on a bicycle? You’ll see a lot more, and you’ll certainly emit less carbon dioxide. If nothing else, you’ll be working off the festive kilojoules and look like a Virgin Active GangStar.

Cycle to work (loser!)
If you are one of those poor sods (yours truly included) who’ll be working the skeleton shifts over the festive season, why not cash in on the deserted roads to cycle to work? Think about it: if you klank when you get there, no one will be around to notice, and it’s good green karma. It’ll also be the highlight of an otherwise lethally boring day.

Switch off your geyser, GEEZER
One of the biggest fossil fuel burners this holiday will undoubtedly be all those geysers holidaymakers have not switched off. If every household that goes on holiday switches their geysers off, Eskom is halfway off the hook. No seriously, do switch it off – but switch it back on the second you walk in the door. There’s nothing more neg than ending a good holiday with a forced icy cold shower.

If you have any potent tips for carbon-neutral holiday-making, feel free to share them in the comments!

Climate change and the future: How bleak is REALLY bleak?

In most civilised countries, it is quite a hard thing to explain to people how bad things are going to get if they don’t start changing their ways. In South Africa, it is even harder, because we’re already largely living a worst-case scenario on a daily basis.

Who needs environmental headaches when you have crime, corruption and Aids? 

When I quote Friends of the Earth and say that, at the rate we’re emitting carbon dioxide now, the number of climate refugees will climb from 1 million people in 1990 to 70 million in 2080, you tell me that it’s a subsidiary issue when you consider that the average person that’s alive today in SA will not live much past their 40th birthday, thanks to Aids and Extreme Drug Resistant TB.

You tell me that the climate crisis can kiss it because the biggest cause of death among men aged 30 and younger today is caused by trauma – gun, knife and car accident related – not pathetic little 5% rises in global temperatures every century or so.

Yet influential thinkers and scientists such as Al Gore and his climate change expert panel agree that with global warming comes more floods – and more long-term droughts.

My dad’s problems are bigger than yours
Now when you consider that 70% of all Africans are farmers, and that 40% of their exports are agriculture-related, that leaves but millions of very poor people very vulnerable to climate-related catastrophes.

Add to that the fact that 60 – 80% of African cash is spent on food, and you have a very bleak future risk picture at hand.

To you, it’s just 0.2 to .5% warmer per decade. To the average third world state’s citizen, it is the difference between harvesting crops and reaping the whirlwind.

Now whether you choose to do something about global warming for the sake of the civil-war-crippled poor living in coastal areas of countries like Mozambique, or whether you want to leave your children’s children a planet that can sustain them;

Whether you do it for ethical reasons or simply to feel better about your smoking habit, it is time to start doing something proactive.

For those of you that can recall the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), our man Bush gave the entire proceedings the stubby dry finger and kept pumping carbon dioxide like there’s no tomorrow. (Please see below.Fuck you, Third World!)

 And the way America’s going, that’s fast becoming a possibility.

When will the world stand up and demand the enforcement of the Kyoto Protocol’s stipulations?

When will the very notion of “carbon credits” be abolished?

And before all this happens, will you be protesting in the streets? Will you be teaching your children climate struggle songs and how to burn furniture?

Carbon accountability is as much up to the individual as it is to corporates and ruling parties in developed countries, and voting is powerful. As a medium for civil expression, it has the power to overthrow corrupt regimes.

It has the power to change everything.

Now the question is: If there was a political party that skipped the politicking and ID-style voter base pimping, a party that had the balls to take on industry and challenge government to drive carbon accountability at ALL levels, would they get your vote when next the elections rolled round?

Or would you keep on wasting your vote towards furthering individual politicians’ careers?

Yes, it IS political!
There’s no black and white when it comes to climate change, but it sure as hell is a key politicial issue that will directly affect the poorest of the poor worse than anybody else.

Aids will kill millions in the present, yet planetary failure will wipe out the possibility of a future.

Are you ready to take ownership of global warming as the single most critical challenge facing us as a generation? Or are you going to keep on supporting the Boks and drink SAB?

NOW who’s your daddy?

And now that I’ve totally killed your mojo for the day, you can get it back by sharing this piece of doom and gloom with the guy in your office that drives the biggest urban 4×4 to work on his ace every morning.

Individual accountability, remember? Yes aye!

And remember to CC in the entire holdings company – let’s expose the carbon criminals in our midst!

Fuck you, (Third) World!

Carbon neutrality: the next step in corporate accountability

Carbon footprint, you say?

The good folks at Wikipedia define a carbon footprint as the total amount of Co2 and other so-called greenhouse gasses emitted during the full life cycle of a product or service – or as a direct result of delivering these.

The deal with carbon footprints

Each person has a carbon footprint, an environmental impact on global warming as a whole, based on the fact that we drive cars running on fossil fuels, we produce waste that emits carbon dioxide during the disposal period, and we go through reams of paper that reduce the number of trees.

Heavy industries and primary producers obviously have a heavier footprint than service sector businesses and individual consumers, yet they nonetheless contribute to these industries’ carbon footprint by consuming their products.

Essentially, the carbon issue is everybody’s baby.

But what if my organisation is predominantly service-focused?

Realistically, primary production industries stand to make the greatest contribution through the optimisation of energy efficiencies and the reduction of emissions, yet it is also up to corporate and individual consumers to utilise products and services in a carbon-conscious way.

In Europe, carbon neutrality is fast becoming as big an advocacy and compliance issue as ethical labour outsourcing had been in the Nineties. Even in South Africa, corporate sustainability reporting already forms an integral component of shareholder communications.

And, as it turns out, there’s some serious money to be made from the global carbon market.

Getting on the green bus

UK retailer Marks & Spencer, for example, has unveiled a £200m, five-year plan to become carbon neutral by 2012. Given the fact that carbon neutrality is very likely to become a mandatory regulatory requirement in future, this early adoption has earned M&S incredibly positive publicity, and positioned them as a future-oriented, environmentally conscious and progressive retailer.

That’s setting the bar pretty damn high.

Reduction vs. offsetting

In brief, the distinction is the following:

You can reduce your own carbon footprint by being more energy-efficient. Think lift club to work, green cars, less plastic shopping bags and low-energy appliances.

Carbon offsetting involves activities that counter carbon emissions. It’s the process of neutralising your carbon impact by making up for it elsewhere.

For the sake of brevity, it involves this:

A shovel, a seedling, a hole in the ground and you.

That’s it!

Planting a tree is not only ridiculously good eco-Karma, but a great work-out too.  If you have a patch of soil to your name, populate it with trees – and if you don’t, go plant one somewhere where it won’t get you arrested.

And if it could – well, then don’t get caught.

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