JOHANNESBURG – Petrochemicals giant Sasol said on Wednesday that it was exploring access to additional gas supplies coupled with renewable energy sources to boost its climate change response as the group faces mounting pressure to reduce its carbon footprint.
Chief executive Fleetwood Grobler said that Sasol wanted to transition to a lower carbon footprint as fast as it responsibly can, taking into account its different legal and stakeholder responsibilities.
He said that removing carbon from the group’s operations would not be as simple as flicking a switch, but would be a process that took investment and time.
“It involves judgements about the pace of the transition which reflects a number of variants, principally around the availability of alternative feedstock, availability of infrastructure, technology and cost,” said Grobler.
Sasol, which is South Africa’s second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after Eskom, emitted 62 million tons in South Africa in 2020. The group said it was looking to reduce this down to 57 million tons in 2030.
Grobler said Sasol was looking to play a part in the establishment of a pipeline to deliver gas from Mozambique.
“Sasol is not in the business of investing in pipelines, we are investing into the outcome of the product of the pipeline that will enable us to decarbonise,” said Grobler.
On Tuesday the group came under fire from shareholder activism groups Just Share and the Raith Foundation for refusing to table a climate-related shareholder resolution ahead of its upcoming annual general meeting on November 20.
However, Grobler said the group had found a method to allow the participation of its shareholders in its climate change journey without undermining its adherence to the Companies Act and corporate governance.
“We will ensure that at the 2021 annual general meeting of the company shareholders can exercise a non-binding advisory vote on our climate change strategy and its implementation,” said Grobler. This would provide shareholders with an appropriate channel to participate in the company’s climate change journey.
“In the event that at least 25 percent of voting rights be against our climate change strategy, and implementation report, we will provide for the board to commit to a consultation process,” said Grobler.
The group said it also wanted to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities and last month placed a request to the market to collaborate with experienced carbon offset project developers to determine the ability of the South African market and South African Development Community to generate and make available carbon credits.
Executive president for Sasol 2.0 Transformation Marius Brand said that Sasol’s South African operations were carbon intensive and accounted for 92 percent of the group’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
“We plan to fully diversify our energy mix, not just in terms of our energy sources but also feedstock for our processing activities,” Brand said. “Additional gas and large scale renewable energy are essential in this respect and our plans are progressing well.”
The group has committed to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas emissions from its South African operations by at least 10 percent by 2030 off a 2017 baseline.
It said it expected to communicate its 2050 road map and associated greenhouse targets of all its South African operations next year.
Sasol shares closed 1.08 percent lower at R108 on the JSE on Wednesday.