Company launches carbon trading scheme in SA

22nd January 2010 By: Carla Thomaz

The personal carbon trading scheme launched in the UK two years ago by the global sustainability and environmental management consultancy WSP Environment & Energy, will be launched locally and internationally this year.

"In South Africa, we have had such a positive response to the launch of the scheme, that not only will the environment and energy division of WSP Group be participating in the scheme, but the scheme will also be made available to the consulting engineering side of the WSP operations," says WSP technical director Sean Doel.

WSP reports that it is the first business in the world to run a personal carbon-trading scheme, referred to as Personal Action Carbon Trading (Pact), for its staff. Doel explains that the scheme was developed by WSP to raise awareness among its staff about their personal carbon footprint and encourage behavioural changes to reduce these footprints.

The scheme tracks staff emissions online on a quarterly basis. At the end of the year, staff members who have used more than their share of carbon are penalised by having to pay into the scheme, while those under the set allowance receive a bonus payment at the same rate. The carbon cap is set and the reward scheme pays a predetermined amount up to a set threshold.

"The South African staff's targets will be set at 7,25 t/y of carbon dioxide. This is higher than the UK staff target, but lower than the target set for our US colleagues. The range of targets reflects the differences in aspects, such as accessibility of public transport." Doel says.

He adds that results have shown that teams on average reduced their carbon footprint by 10% last year and that the scheme has successfully changed staff behaviour, not only encouraging them to alter their choices around personal travel and holiday arrangements, but also to start their own green initiatives.

During 2010, the scheme will also be made available to a select group of clients as part of the company's long-term plan of offering Pact to other organisations that are looking for ways to encourage and incentivise their staff to reduce their personal carbon footprints.

"It is our long-term plan and immediate priority that we engage every one of our 10 000 plus staff globally in thinking about what sustainability means to them personally and professionally," concludes Doel.