Investigating the feasibility of a locally developed carbon-offsetting scheme : the case of the Drifters Desert Nature Reserve

Gibson, Sean (2012-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the context of both climate change and peak oil, it is clear that the tourism industry cannot continue with a business-as-usual approach. Unfettered fossil fuel use is no longer an option and novel approaches need to be explored in order to change the configuration of energy systems. Transport is particularly energy intense and consequently, since it involves travel, so is tourism. The Drifters Desert Nature Reserve (DDNR) is probably a net carbon sink. The property is large and has thousands of long lived trees and bushes: but this would be an ‘easy out’ in an industry which is has a reputation for evading tough questions. Are there affordable techniques that can be employed by the Reserve that will reduce its carbon footprint and enable it to move toward being entirely carbon neutral, without relying on sequestration? A willingness to pay (WTP) survey investigating if clients were prepared to pay a voluntary amount towards reducing the emissions of the DDNR, thereby offsetting some of their own emissions, was conducted; 121 questionnaires were completed. The results were extrapolated out to represent the WTP of the 1055 clients that visited the DDNR in the last year. It was found that 73% of all the clients who stay at the DDNR are willing to pay toward helping the DDNR change the way its systems are configured as a means to offset some of their own emissions debt in getting to the reserve. Lodge clients were prepared to pay almost double the amount clients staying at the campsite would consider. In both cases, WTP was around 10% of the value of the accommodation package chosen. The fossil fuel use and consequent carbon dioxide debt of the DDNR was calculated and emissions were found to be in the region of 30 tonnes per annum. As per the case in the greater Namibia, transport is responsible for the bulk of the carbon dioxide output, with energy provision in this off-grid reserve being a close second. Of four potential interventions considered, two were found to be financially viable, regardless of the WTP of clientele. It is speculated that WTP on a small scale is administratively laborious and the potential contribution of a voluntary offsetting payment was perhaps not high to justify the implementation of the scheme. It was however found that reconfiguring the energy systems would definitely be a worthwhile exercise. On corporate level where efficiencies of size amplify gains, Drifters, as a group of 14 lodges and an overland company, may well find that a transparent voluntary emissions reduction (VER) payment, ring-fenced, appropriately used, and properly implemented, is worthwhile. Ethically, however, injecting VER payments into a balance sheet is problematic, especially where the payback period of the technological interventions is short and the benefits derived are long term.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die gebruik van fossielbrandstowwe wat in die huidige tydsgewrig tot die opwekking van oormatige kweekhuisgasse lei is nie langer aanvaarbaar nie en innoverende opsies om die voortgesette generasie van energie te verseker, sal nagestreef moet word. Een van die grootste verbruikers van energie is vervoer, en vervolgens is dit ook die geval dat toerisme, wat swaar op vervoer staatmaak, ‘n groot gebruiker van energie is. Aangesien daar etlike gevestigde bome en bosse op hierdie woestynreservaat is, is die Drifters Desert Nature Reserve (DDNR) moontlik ‘n netto bespaarder van koolstofgasse, maar dit kan nie sondermeer daargelaat word in ‘n bedryf wat bekend is daarvoor dat dit graag die moeilike vrae vermy nie. Daar is dus gevra: is daar bekostigbare tegnieke wat moontlik by die DDBR aangewend kan word om die koolstofvoetafdruk te verminder en dit in staat kan stel om totaal koolstofneutraal te word, sonder om op ingryping staat te maak? Navorsing is gedoen en 121 vraelyste is voltooi om vas te stel of kliente gewillig sou wees om ‘n vrywillige bydrae te maak om die afskeid van koolstof te beheer en daardeur hul eie koolstofvoetafrdruk te verminder, in ‘n sg “gewilligheid om te betaal” oftewel “willingness to pay” (WTP) opname. Die resultate is deurgevoer as verteenwoordigend van die 1 055 kliente wat verlede jaar die oord besoek het. Daar is gevind dat 73% van die kliente wat die oord besoek bereid sou wees om die DDNR geldelik te help om sy stelsels te verander as ‘n teenrekening om hul eie koolstofbesoedeling op pad daarheen te vergoed. Kliente wat die losie gebruik het was bereid om meer te betaal as diegene wat by die kampeerterrein tuisgegaan het. Die hele reservaat se jaarlikse koolstofdioksied debiet is bereken, en die jaarlikse opwekking is op ongeveer 30-tonne vasgestel. Nes in Namibie as geheel is vervoeruitlaatgasse verantwoordelik vir die oorgrote meerderheid opwekking, met die voorsiening van energie by die afgelee oord kort op sy hakke. Van die vier moontlike ingrypings wat oorweeg is, is twee finansieel die moeite werd gevind, ongeag die kliente se gewilligheid om geldelik by te dra. Die bestuur van aanvraag is ook oorweeg, en hoewel dit nie gekwantifiseer is nie, is dit nes die moontlikheid van tegnologiese innovering, duidelik deel van die oplossing, Daar is gevind dat ‘n stelsel van betaling op plaaslike vlak moeilik sou wees om die administreer, en aangesien selfs die gewilliges nie oorgretig is nie, is daar tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat dit nie die moeite sou loon nie. Ongeag bogenoemde beginsel van toersitebydraes is daar gevind dat dit ongetwyfeld die moeite werd sou wees om die energiestelsels aan te pas. Maar dit sal nie noodwendig op ‘n korporatiewe of ‘n makro-skaal werk nie, veral nie waar grote ‘n rol speel nie. As maatskappygroep mag Drifters vind dat met ‘n deursigtige, vrywillige uitlaatverminderingspaaiement, wat afgebaken, korrek aangewend en effektief bestuur word, die kool die sous werd sou wees.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20210
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