Confronting Climate Change

Over the past three months I have been totally emerged in the Fruit & Wine industry’s carbon footprinting project called “Confronting Climate Change” or CCC in short (Blue North is the appointed project managers for Phase 2 of this project).  It has been very rewarding to work hard on the envisaged solution for Phase 2 and seeing it systematically taking shape.

The project aims to assist the industry and users in constructing credible and benchmarkable carbon footprints for their supply-chain.  The main challenges for Phase 2 of the CCC project were to:

  • simplify the complexity of the data collection process across a supply-chain;
  • improving data credibility;
  • making the results benchmarkable; and
  •  to increase the industry uptake (use) of the tool.

We started off by mapping the supply-chain process and determining the entity boundaries.  Having clarified the boundaries for a farm, packhouse, winery, etc. it allowed us to “see” where data quality was being sacrificed and where the data collection process had to be re-aligned with the supply-chain process map.  This brought us to the heart of the project, the online web application, that captures and process the data.  We underestimated the challenges of realigning the web application and the underlying online database with the newly defined supply-chain process map and spend some long hours getting to grips with it.  The learning gained from this exercise was vast and will stand us in good stead in future.

The Phase 2 website and its underlying database are now complete.  Data integrity and the benchmark ability of results were designed into the website’s functionality and the database structures.

We now also have a Microsoft Excel based Data Collection Tool (DCT) that allows users to capture their carbon footprinting data at workshops venues in rural areas where they have the technical support of the project team, but limited internet connectivity.  The Excel DCT, containing all the carbon footprinting data, can then be uploaded / imported to the online CCC database via the CCC website as soon as an internet connection is available.  If internet connectivity is available at the workshop venue, a user can always captured their data on the CCC website directly.  Once captured or imported, the data is processed by the web application and the results summarised in a neat report that CCC users can use:

  • as a basis for developing a carbon management strategy for their agri-business (the report highlights the carbon hotspots);
  • to measure their carbon reductions over time; and
  • to communicate their fruit or wine’s carbon intensity to supply-chain partners (e.g. 0.65 Kg CO2e per Kg of fruit delivered to the packhouse).

With a reliable carbon footprint database the fruit and wine industry can:

  • build a profile of their specific industry’s carbon intensity through the credible primary datasets collected;
  • use this profile to develop an industry carbon management  strategy; and
  • create benchmarks per commodity and region so that CCC users can benchmark their carbon footprinting results (It is very difficult to understand a carbon footprint figure in isolation, carbon is not something you can touch or see.  These benchmarks help to put a CCC user’s result in perspective).

With the development of the Phase 2 structures, tools and website complete, the focus has now moved to data collection through technical workshops.  These workshops are strategically located throughout growing regions and are timed to be “out of season” to ensure maximum attendance.

The first sets of benchmarkable carbon footprint data have been received and the results are encouraging.  By end September 2012 the workshops will be complete and we will have our first glimpse of the industry’s carbon profile.  I cannot wait!


Eddie Vienings

Partner at Blue North