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SA consumers are pivotal in achieving Net Zero

The phrase, “net zero” has become synonymous with global sustainability objectives and the movement to curb climate change. As the world gears up to present a united front against impeding realities like environmental degradation and global warming, many have opinions on the role that the public and private sectors have to play in driving positive change. These efforts, however, need to be supported by civil society, which holds sway over transformation on a grassroots level.

This is according to Mustafa Soylu, chief executive officer of Defy Appliances, who says that South Africans need to make the shift to conscious consumerism, reconsider their buying decisions and opt for brands and products that can visibly demonstrate their commitment to solving climate issues. “For a net-zero economy by 2050, energy efficiency is a must.

Four product groups – electric motors, air conditioners, refrigerators, and lighting – account for 40% of global electricity consumption.

Home appliances consume a significant amount of household energy. This forces us, and our industry, to take a hard look at ourselves, and reconsider our impact on the planet. As climate conditions worsen, people in developing countries will become more and more vulnerable to heat. With growing middle-classes, the demand for cooling products will only increase. Therefore, one of the most critical short-term actions is working on increasing the energy efficiency of the products even in countries where there is no current legislation that forces us to do so.”   

For Soylu, decisive and collective action by all South Africans is the only solution to lowering our country’s carbon footprint and making a meaningful contribution to the global movement against climate change. “As South Africans, we need to avoid relegating the responsibility of fighting global warming to big corporates and the government. Instead, we need to share responsibility and use education and awareness drives to filter these commitments down to consumer level, which is where change can is seen in the most tangible way.”

This change is underway, as a study by Euromonitor International suggests. According to the study, 34% of South African survey respondents indicate that they buy sustainably produced items and 49% make use of sustainable packaging. A further 32% (compared to 24% globally) say that they make donations to non-profit organisations that support and protect the environment. This shift to conscious consumerism, is a trend that is slowly but surely taking hold in South Africa, with over 70% of respondents indicating that they try to make a positive impact on the environment by recycling, saving water and reducing the use of single-use plastic.

As Soylu argues, taking actions that protect the environment have a dual benefit for South Africans who face unique energy challenges. Load shedding – which was implemented during the later months of 2007 – is still a reality more than a decade later. It is becoming clearer that energy-efficiency and the more responsible use of energy is a necessity for the millions of South Africans whose daily lives are affected in a very direct way by electricity blackouts. Furthermore, Defy is committed to helping consumers by reducing their utility bills and aiding the government’s decarbonisation goals.

“To this end, as Euromonitor International reports, almost half of South Africans are earnestly pursuing ways to reduce their energy consumption and use more efficient products. For Defy Appliances, insights such as these informed the design and development of the Defy Solar Hybrid range of household appliances that can offer an up to 35% reduction in energy use.”

The range is the materialisation of Defy’s commitment as a company to help consumers to play their part in working towards net zero, says Soylu.

“We are committed to mitigating the impact of climate change by ensuring that our production processes, our manufacturing methods and the materials we use are carbon efficient. This sustainable approach will underlie everything we do as a group moving forward. As we take action that is reflective of this commitment, we encourage consumers to vote with their money by making conscious purchasing decisions that will contribute towards a more sustainable future,” he concludes.

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