Joburg flexes financial muscle on climate change

2014-02-09 06:00

Joburg has joined other world economic hub cities to lessen emissions and create green policies without waiting around for the national governments to commit to such a treaty.

The city hosted the C40 Mayors Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre this week. The summit focused specifically on the actions big cities such as New York, Houston, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro and Copenhagen have taken to create a green, healthier way of life for their citizens.

The conference purposefully targets mayors as the driving force to green their cities against the backdrop of the official UN annual climate change talks, which have progressed at a snail’s pace without any tangible outcomes, leaving many frustrated.

The summit this week released a report, which shows that the C40 megacities are using their power – accounting for 18% of the world’s GDP – to set the agenda. The report says almost 60 cities worldwide have now taken more than 8 000 specific actions under the C40 banner to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost urban resilience.

Johannesburg’s actions include a Cosmo City Climate Proofing Project, the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transport System and the Northern Water Works Biogas to Electricity Project. Pikitup is also running a “separation at source” project, but that has had limited success.

“These are 8 000 actions that have been taken, not talked about,” said former New York mayor and current C40 chairperson Michael Bloomberg, adding that the actions deliver “powerful results”.

In line with South Africa’s own commitment to reduce carbon emission targets, Johannesburg plans to lessen its carbon footprint by 30% by 2025 compared with 2005 emissions. The report highlights best practice examples that the city can follow and which other cities have implemented.

Bike sharing schemes are all the rage, the report indicated, a trend that Joburg is yet to pick up on. Worldwide there was a 500% increase in cities implementing bike-sharing schemes from 6 in 2011 to 36 in 2013.

Just over half of cities have introduced LED street lighting.

Joburg also started retrofitting streetlights in 2010 and this is an ongoing project.

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