Cape Town – A new report, the Airport Pollution Index, has named South Africa as being in the top 10 countries with the biggest carbon footprints in the world.

The index is published by British company Utility Bidder, a business energy consultancy, that carried out research to reveal the UK airports and countries with the biggest and smallest carbon footprints by analysing the carbon emissions emitted per person per kilometre.

The report says that with 99g of carbon emissions per passenger per km, South Africa features as fourth behind Luxembourg, the US Virgin Islands and Albania, and just ahead of Bermuda.

Other countries on the “top 10” list are Norway, Moldova, the US, Japan and Serbia.

Environmental campaigners have said the issue of South Africa’s carbon footprint is a worry. Green Connection Advocacy Officer Kholwani Simelane said: “The issue of high emissions in our country is a matter of grave concern that demands immediate action.”

The rating comes as tourism to South Africa and specifically to Cape Town appears to be turning the corner, with at least three announcements in the past week of more direct flights to the Mother City.

Yesterday, the City launched its Brazil travel campaign with Cape Town Tourism before the upcoming direct SAA flights between Cape Town and São Paulo, starting on October 31.

Mayco member for economic growth James Vos said he hoped the new direct flight would firm up relations between the two regions, boost trade, and bring more South American tourists to Cape Town.

This, he said would “benefit our city’s economy and work towards our goal to create a tourism-related job in every household”.

On July 6, there was an announcement about the reintroduction by Air France of seasonal direct flights between Paris and Cape Town.

At the end of June, the province’s official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency, Wesgro, said Cape Town recorded a total of 46 966 tourist arrivals via air, 86% from overseas markets and 14% from the African continent.

“The UK led as the top source market to Cape Town (via air) between January and May 2023, closely followed by Germany, the US, Netherlands and France in the top five positions.”

However Wesgro said the environmental issue was “non-negotiable”.

The agency said it was aware of increased global pressure to reduce carbon emissions from air travel, and that there had been a significant focus on developing more sustainable technology and reducing the overall environmental impact of flights.

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