Budget Sparks South Africa’s Green Transition – Corporates Must Now Take the Lead

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JOHANNESBURG – The 2024 South African budget speech from Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana shows sustainability taking centre stage, said Bonnie Smith, GM of FCM. 

“The national budget’s clear reprioritisation towards electric vehicles demonstrates that government is walking the talk on emission reduction and cleaner transport,” Smith commented. “This should spur every responsible business to take tangible, positive environmental actions.”

The speech revealed a R964 million budget reallocation to accelerate South Africa’s transition to electric vehicles, as per last year’s electric mobility ambitions. While the country lags European legislation, Smith believes this signals meaningful progress.

In addition, the Minister confirmed no increases in general fuel levies for 2024/25 – temporarily sparing consumers from further petrol and diesel tax hikes. However, with high global oil prices sustaining pressure on airfares, companies must take the policy lead on sustainability.

“Smart South African corporations should mirror this national sustainability drive within their business travel programmes,” urged Smith. “The time is now for every company to future-proof against inevitable sustainability legislation by voluntarily adopting greener travel policies now.”

She argues that as government budgets and policies get real on emission cuts, emissions-heavy business travel is bound to enter the regulatory crosshairs.

“By fast-tracking sustainability today, travel managers mitigate future turmoil when new sustainability rules disrupt the status quo,” Smith continued. “Greener programmes also boost employer branding and ethics for recruiting top talent.”

Companies needn’t go green alone. “Partnering with a trusted travel management company (TMC) brings expert guidance for identifying and integrating sustainable initiatives based on the organisation’s priorities and travel patterns,” Smith advised.

Easy wins? Smith recommends every travel manager incentivise electric transport and offset flight carbon footprints. “These steps meaningfully lower corporate travel emissions,” she said. “They also showcase social responsibility to customers and stakeholders when reporting carbon metrics.”

“Employees should come to expect a focus on emissions reduction, renewable energy and ‘walking the green talk’ from their progressive employers,” Smith concludes. “Every carbon-conscious strategy brought forward now helps the planet and positions companies well for the sustainable future,” concludes Smith.