Property lagging other sectors in carbon disclosure

The property sector in South Africa was found to be lagging when it came to the measurement and disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions, as only two of the twelve JSE-listed real estate sector companies participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project 2010.

The two companies that participated were Growthpoint Properties and Capital Shopping Centres, which was previously known as Liberty International.

Incite Sustainability managing partner Jonathon Hanks, who was responsible for compiling the CDP report, noted that this was in line with international trends, which showed that the property sector was "not great at responding".

This was viewed as disappointing, since the built environment sector contributed significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, and had a role to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Speaking at the launch of the CDP 2010 on Thursday, newly appointed Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa noted that the draft national climate change policy had been accepted by Cabinet and would soon be gazetted for public comment, with the final white paper expected in mid-2011.

She added that measuring and reporting of emissions would become mandatory, and sectoral emission reduction targets would likely be outlined. Those companies, which did not comply, would be penalised.

It was also interesting to note that the two companies, which responded to the CDP 2010 questionnaire, were members of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

The GBCSA aimed at leading the transformation of the South African property industry to ensure that all new buildings were designed, built and operated in an environmentally sustainable way, allowing South Africans to work and live in healthy, efficient and productive environments.

The listed companies that did not respond were Acucap, Emira Property Fund, Fountainhead Property Trust, Hyprop Investments, Pangbourne Properties, Redefine Income Fund, Resilient Property Income Fund, SA Corporate Real Estate Fund, and Sycom.

The CDP 2010 also noted that another sector with a poor response rate was the hotels and resorts sector. Gold Reef Resorts and Sun International both declined to participate.

The food products sector also had a poor response rate.

The CDP is a global project, which is backed by 534 institutional investors, representing some $64-trillion in assets under their management. The CDP set questionnaires to 4 500 corporations in 2010, requesting information on emissions, on the potential climate related risks and opportunities to their business, and strategies for managing these.

The South African CDP is in its fourth year, and 74 of the top-100 JSE-listed companies responded in 2010.

Of the 74 respondents, 94% disclosed their emissions, an increase from 87% in 2009, and 31 companies have adopted specific emission reduction targets.

Article by: Christy van der Merwe - Edited by: Mariaan Webb