Guests : Aidan Lawrence | Eastern Cape Deputy Chair at Southern Africa Tourism
Services Association |
As the global pushback against flying gains momentum because of air travel’s impact
on the climate crisis, the South African travel industry has come up with an innovative
offset mechanism — planting carbon-sucking spekboom to combat ‘flygskam’.
Flygskam — the word coined in Sweden to describe the shame of flying because of the
high amount of climate-changing carbon that air travel generates — is gaining traction
in Europe with increasing numbers turning to rail instead.
While the flygskam movement can help cut carbon emissions, if the trend grows
substantially it could have a negative impact on tourism in countries that Europeans
cannot reach by hopping on a train — such as South Africa.
The South African tourism industry is alert to that and has come up with a scheme it
hopes will ensure European tourists don’t ditch plans to fly here on holiday because of
the embarrassment of clocking up carbon emissions.
The idea takes the form of a carbon-offsetting project launched a few weeks ago at the
Southern African Tourism Services Association’s (SATSA) annual conference in the
SATSA hopes that the project will grow to such a level that tourist flights to and from
South Africa will eventually become carbon-neutral.
There is nothing hi-tech about it, nor anything involving complex finance or carbon
markets. It simply entails planting succulents. Not just any succulents, but the humble
spekboom — many millions of them — as a carbon-offsetting mechanism.
Chief operating officer of SATSA Hannelie du Toit acknowledges that it is a tough goal
to reach, but believes the industry needed to take the first step.
Du Toit believes South Africa is the first country to put a mechanism in place to counter
“The trend around flight shame started in Sweden and it appears to be getting louder
and louder. We want to be prepared because if it gets loud enough it could have an
impact on tourism here, and tourism is one of South Africa’s economic pillars.”
Flygskam — literally translated it means “flying shame” — began in mid-2017 when
Swedish singer Staffan Lindberg wrote an article on the subject and persuaded some
friends to sign the article as a commitment to stop flying. They included Olympic
medallist Björn Ferry and opera singer Malena Ernman, mother of teenage climate
activist Greta Thunberg.
The anti-flying movement has spread from Sweden to other European countries and has
made enough impact for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to sit up and
take note. It was reported that flygskam was a major topic at the IATA conference in
Seoul in June, where IATA head Alexandre de Juniac said that if left “unchallenged”, the
sentiment would spread.
Global tourism as a whole accounts for about 8% of carbon emissions.
Commercial flights are responsible for about 2.5% of carbon emissions today.
International flights account for about 65% of these emissions. Aviation emissions have
increased by 26% since 2013.
The UK-based online publication Carbon Brief, which specialises in covering
developments in climate science and policy, says if aviation were a country, it would be
the sixth-largest carbon emitter in the world, sitting between Japan and Germany.
The aviation industry is in a bit of a tight spot. It has said it has plans to reduce its
carbon footprint, but there does not appear to be any quick way to do so. One of the
most effective ways would be to use a sustainable fuel that could cut emissions by 80%
on each flight. However, there is a short supply of this fuel and it is expensive.
The UN’s aviation agency has a scheme agreed to by 192 countries in 2016 that aims to
offset carbon emissions from international flights. It is known as Corsia: Carbon
Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
All airlines that take part will have to buy offsets, or “pollution credits”, for any growth in
emissions above 2020 levels.
It is a long process that will happen in a series of steps, the first of which began in
January when airlines taking part began to monitor and report on their emissions.
Corsia has met with a fair amount of criticism, not least because offsetting means that
airlines will not have to cut their carbon emissions, but instead will pay other parties to
reduce theirs. As the effects of climate change bite deeper, this may no longer be
Another problem lies in enforcing and monitoring the offset projects that airlines buy
into. Some critics say experience has shown that there are some dodgy offset schemes
that have a slim chance of ever delivering reductions in emissions.
The SATSA spekboom project is in its infancy and SATSA will have to develop ways of
monitoring the project if it takes off.
“The enthusiasm was amazing. The table was empty.”
Lawrence has been planting spekboom for years at his backpackers on the Wild Coast
where he also runs a small nursery, but it was not until he heard about flygskam at a
tourism workshop in Cape Town in 2018 that he came up with the idea of spekboom as
a carbon-offsetting project.
“A lady came up to me and asked if I had ever heard of ‘flight shame’ and I had not. She
told me about it and that triggered the idea about spekboom to offset carbon from
flights. I decided to approach SATSA and they immediately took to the idea.”
Lawrence says one hectare of spekboom can absorb more than four tons of carbon
dioxide a year — “making it more effective than the Amazon rainforest at removing
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere”.
SATSA will plant another 5,000 over the next few months and there will be enough
“mother plant stock” to roll out millions of new plants.
Lawrence says it takes six people about 25 minutes to plant 300 spekboom in pots,
filling them with soil, and less time to plant them directly in the ground. Each plant
lives for 200 years.
Lawrence believes any tourism outfit in South Africa, no matter how big or small, should
take responsibility for the spekboom carbon offset project. What he fears is that
industry players will “dump” the project on him.
“That tends to happen, that the person who started the project ends up having it all
dumped on them. It won’t work like that. Every tourist outfit must get involved.
Spekboom can grow anywhere, even in snow, so there is no reason why tourism outlets
all over the country can’t start planting.”
SATSA’s head David Frost echoes this: “Globally, the tourism industry accounts for 8% of
the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each business must take responsibility for its
What makes spekboom (Portulacaria afra) better than most other plants at sucking up
According to the SA National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi), it is because the spekboom
has two photosynthetic pathways: one that most plants use, plus a second pathway that
it uses when conditions are unfavourable. If there is not enough rain, for instance, other
plants shut down and wait for conditions to improve, but the spekboom just switches
pathways and carries on photosynthesising and “slurping up huge amounts of carbon
despite adverse climatic conditions”.
Sanbi says a stand of spekboom can remove more carbon from the atmosphere than an
equal amount of deciduous forest.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report in 2018 that said
the worst effects of climate change could be avoided if we kept the global average
temperature increase to 1.5°C.
Achieving this would entail radical changes in the way we do things in order to get
carbon out of the atmosphere, both by cutting emissions and by removing what is
already there as a result of historic emissions.
Planting trees and restoring damaged forests is one way to go, so the spekboom project
fits right in there.
Globally, forests store almost a third of the world’s emissions. Experts say restoring
forests destroyed in the Amazon would pull about 1.5 billion tons of carbon out of the
But planting trees alone won’t the world below the 1.5°C limit. The IPCC report says we
need to tackle emissions on several fronts.
Kate Gordon, a fellow at the Columbia Centre on Global Energy Policy, is quoted in a
Columbia University publication saying exactly that.
“If there’s one thing the IPCC report underscores it is that we need a portfolio. We need
to reduce emissions dramatically, we need to come up with more renewable energy
options to replace fossil fuels, we need to electrify a lot of things that are currently run
on petroleum and then we need to do an enormous amount of carbon removal.”
The South African spekboom project has a long way to go before it will be big enough
to suck up the equivalent amount of carbon from air flights to this country.
And there is a lot of work ahead in gathering data, for instance calculating the amount
of carbon flights to South Africa emit, which Lawrence has begun working on.
“It is going to be lot of work and I would welcome help on any side. But you have to
start somewhere, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Guest : Lethu Tshabangu
Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is for sure, BEER remains one of the world’s
most celebrated adult beverages. Right now, the craft beer trend is booming, with a
growing number of local craft breweries reinventing classic styles.
Today we are joined in studio by Head brewer and co-founder of Ukhamba Beerworx,
Lethu Tshabangu on starting the first black–owned microbrewery in Cape Town, on
recreating umqombothi in a modern way and how he turned his passion for this ‘side
hustle’ into a viable business.
Guest : Murray Hunter | Author at Boris the Babybot (book)
Gregory Edwards | Author at The Table Mountain Story (book)
Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds
knowledge, language, imagination and school success.
And this evening I want to bring two local children’s books to your attention – both self published by two Cape Town writers and both with an important and thoughtful
message for children.
Boris the BabyBot was dreamt up by researcher and writer Murray Hunter, and the book
focuses on surveillance and data privacy.
The Table Mountain Story, A KhoiKhoi Story was brought to life by Gregory Edwards and
communicates the magic and history of one of Cape Town’s most loved landmarks:
Guest : Melinda Ferguson
Our regular motoring journalist Melinda Ferguson is back in the driver’s seat today and
she will give us her thoughts on the Range Rover Velar V8 special Autobiography
Price: R1 724 350
Engine: 5.0 litre supercharged V8
Power/Torque: 405 kW/680 Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 11.4 L/100 km (claimed)
Load space: 834-1 705 litres
Guest : Liam del Carme
Veteran sports journalist Liam Del Carme takes rugby fans and Springbok supporters on
the ride of a lifetime in this behind-the-scenes account, Winging It: On tour with the
With more than 25 years’ experience as an insightful sports writer, Del Carme has
travelled to six of the seven continents as part of the press corps who follow and write
about the national rugby team in all its iterations at international level. His anecdotes
will have you wide-eyed with wonderment and chuckling appreciatively at his talent for
telling a funny story.
Winging It: On Tour With The Boks is an insider’s view of life on tour from one of South
Africa’s most enduring sports writers, Liam Del Carme, while he follows the muchcherished national rugby team, the Springboks.
Del Carme takes the reader across continents and time zones as he shares the helterskelter atmosphere of meeting looming writing deadlines while finding ways to
maintain his sanity. The book explores the ebb and flow of touring with one of rugby’s
iconic teams since 1996, including three Rugby World Cups, various Tri-Nations and
Rugby Championships, as well as end-of-year tours, in destinations all over the world.
He explores the characters, destinations and his travel companions while sharing his
highs and lows of covering great rugby moments.
In the book, the reader gets to see the personal side of prominent sports personalities,
including Nick Mallett, Harry Viljoen, Gcobani Bobo, Jake White, Eddie Jones, Joost van
der Westhuizen, Clive Woodward, Peter de Villiers, Graham Henry, Jean de Villiers, Naas Botha, John Hart, Owen Nkumane, Chester Williams, Allister Coetzee, Heyneke Meyer, Rudolf Straeuli, Os du Randt and Dick Muir.
Guest : Felicity Guest | Founder at Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa |
Regardless of your marital status, if you are a loving, present parent chances are you
want to provide for your child. You want to be able to give them a better life than you
had and give them the comforts that other children enjoy.
You want to be able to give them the birthday parties that they deserve, the food they
need to grow up to be healthy and strong, the clothes that they need, the school
supplies that they need, and so much more.
Both parents have a duty to support their children, but this doesn't always happen. In
South Africa over 52% of children grow up without financial support from both parents.
Today is International Child Support Awareness Day – a day started by Felicity Guest,
founder of the Child Maintenance Difficulties in South Africa (CMDSA) is a Facebook
page – to highlight the important role financial support plays in helping a child grown
This year, she launched National Child Support Awareness Week (a first in South Africa)
which runs from 4 to 10 December, before culminating in International Child Support
Awareness Day today.
Delighted to be joined on the line by Felicity Guest now
Guest : Susana Kennedy
Brian Walsh | CEO at Entrepreneur.Co.Za |
Creative Consultant, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur, Susanna Kennedy is with us every
fortnight to discuss healing, therapeutic methods to clear the clutter and unique ways
to become the best version of ourselves.
Today we’re talking about transforming the mind of the entrepreneur onto a greater
plain for success – a necessary topic with the state our economy is in right now? And in
fact, Susanna this is a topic that touches close to home for you because you’re also an
Who have you brought with you to the studio to help us understand starting your own
Brian Walsh is renowned for his work on entrepreneurship. He is considered a leading
authority on entrepreneurship and human behavior. He is the founder of The REAL
Entrepreneur™ Institute, a private research and education organization dedicated to
empower entrepreneurs to live a life of true wealth, freedom and meaning.
It is a sad reality to think that almost 80% of small businesses are technically insolvent
and more than 90% of all businesses fail in 5 years or less. There are various theories as
to why this is but one that is more fact than theory is that the entrepreneur themselves
has a major role to play.
Guest : Regina Mohlomi
Last month, embers of the National Assembly have bid farewell to Parliament’s first
woman serjeant-at-arms Regina Mohlomi.
She’s due to retire at the end of this year after serving eight years in the position.
Mohlomi’s duties have included being the official guardian of the mace, a decorated
rod which is the symbol of authority of the Speaker of the National Assembly.
She was also responsible for maintaining the attendance register of the members.
And what an honour to have Regina Mohlomi on the line with me – welcome to
Guest : Andrew Thompson
It is becoming more and more frequent that the security at private property access
roads scans your ID and your driver's license.
Instead of the old sign-in book, which it was so easy to feed false information to –
handheld scanners used by security guards at vehicle entry points to capture the details
on your driving licence and car licence disc, before allowing you entry to a controlled
site – is now the norm. And these scanners decrypt the barcode-like data on the back of
credit-card style licences, keeping a real record of all who come and go.
But where is the info (from your driving licence and car licence disc) stored? Who has
access to it and what happens if this information is ever compromised?
Delighted to have Andrew Thompson, freelance writer at Business Insider SA, joining me
in studio now for a deep-dive into this issue
Guests : Lorraine Johnson |
Ibtisaam Abdul | Bakes and Co-founder at H and I Sweet and Savouries |
It is no secret that the intensified load shedding has had a devastating economic effect
on many companies. Without electricity, many businesses cannot function, and in those
instances, employees are unable to work.
But what about the impact load shedding has on entrepreneurs and smaller business in
Cape Town? What is the economic impact of load-shedding in our local communities?
If you’re a business owner in CPT, how has no electricity for 2-4 hours at a time impact
YOU and your pocket? How are you keeping your head above water? How has this
inconvenience spoiled your December?
If YOU have been negatively impacted by load-shedding or know of a business who is
now struggling to keep afloat as a direct result of Eskom’s mismanagement – we want
to hear your story.