Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to be one of SA’s first carbon neutral sport events


The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is to become one of the first sporting events to be declared carbon neutral in South Africa.

This will be achieved through the pilot purchase of carbon credits traded on a JSE platform using existing commercial and financial infrastructure. The platform and the carbon offset trading were showcased for market readiness at the JSE yesterday.

The carbon offset trading pilot was part of a culmination of a three-year research project executed by Promethium Carbon in co-operation with the JSE and funded by the British High Commission in Pretoria.

To offset and become carbon neutral, a company can purchase carbon credits through any of the number of brokers in South Africa that facilitate the trade of credits.

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, a weekend-long festival of running held from 20 – 21 September 2014 and preceded by the Peace Symposium on Friday, 19 September, attracted more than 12 500 runners from 53 countries as well as spectators and symposium delegates.

The total greenhouse gas emissions of the 2014 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon and the Peace Symposium were calculated to be 873 tCO2 (823 tCO2 for the marathon and 50 tCO2 for the symposium). This amounted to approximately 0.07 tCO2 per participant. The emissions associated with the event emanated from transportation, mainly air travel, (the largest contributor at 85%), manufacturing of goods and services for the event (13%) as well as energy (1%).

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is the second Sanlam-sponsored event to be declared carbon neutral. Sanlam has also purchased carbon credits to offset gas emissions from its annual Benchmark Symposium since 2013.

“We are proud of this critical milestone for the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon as well as our participation in the piloting of an environmental initiative which we hope fellow corporates will embrace,” says Sanlam Group’s head of corporate affairs, Mr Francois Adriaan.

“Sanlam’s core business activities have a low impact on the environment but we recognise that some of our activities, such as events, have a larger carbon footprint. As a responsible corporate citizen that cares about the environment and one that is concerned about the sustainability of our business and that of the communities in which we do business, we aim for every Sanlam event to be carbon neutral. We hope to achieve this by limiting greenhouse gas emissions and offsetting those emissions which we cannot avoid,” says Adriaan.

Participation in this initiative reaffirms Sanlam’s commitment to environmental and business sustainability, which the company is well recognised for. One such recognition is the inclusion of Sanlam on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices in recognition of its leadership in corporate sustainability. Out of 19 insurance companies asked to participate in the emerging market index (companies in Brazil, China, Taiwan, South Africa and Poland), only the top 10% insurance companies were included. Sanlam is the only South African insurance company selected for the index.

“We believe in doing the right things and doing them for good. Part of that is taking voluntary and responsible action such as mitigating the impact of our gas emissions. That is why Sanlam has taken the lead in contributing to the creation of a low carbon economy in South Africa and has exposed itself to scrutiny by participating in the Dow Jones Index and the Carbon Disclosure Index, among other initiatives.”

The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon is an annual event managed through a joint partnership between Western Province Athletics (WPA), ASEM Running and the City of Cape Town. The event is endorsed by event ambassador Elana Meyer, South Africa’s Olympic medallist and repeat record holder in long-distance running, Elana Meyer and Francois Pienaar, the Rugby World Cup 1995 winning captain.

Says Meyer: “I am proud to be associated with an event that is carbon neutral.  The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon endeavours to benchmark itself against leading international City Marathons in order to pioneer and be seen as leaders in sustainability initiatives.  The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon’s three core focus areas are to demonstrate concern for sustainability; to minimise its environmental impact and to maximise engagement of all key stakeholders.”

Sanlam aims to continue to mitigate the carbon footprint resulting from events such as the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon in line with the company’s overall sustainability strategy and targets, which include reducing the carbon footprint by 15% at the end of this year.

“The Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, which already has a substantial charity drive, will now also have another social benefit for the South Africa, which we believe sets it apart from many other events in the country,” Adriaan concludes.