Cycling against climate change

2009-11-09 00:00

A WELL-KNOWN environmentalist is to travel 3 000 kilometres around the country on an electric bicycle to draw attention to “the critical need for swift action in response to climate change”.

Sustainability expert Robert Zipplies is cycling from Cape Town to Durban via Johannesburg and Pretoria in partnership with Project 90 by 2030. He described the Climate Challenge 2009 as “his personal way to wave a red flag in South Africa” about climate change.

Zipplies and Project 90 by 2030 initiated the challenge to raise awareness about climate change and the need for South Africans to reduce carbon emissions. “We need to create a low-carbon society, lobby for policy change and adapt to the unavoidable climatic changes that we have already started to experience. We are running out of time to make the changes that science shows are needed,” he said.

Zipplies and the 90 by 2030 team left the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Friday and will visit 12 cities along the way. They will complete the journey in Durban on December 5. This is timed to be two days before the start of the international United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 (COP15) in Copenhagen.

When he reaches Pietermaritzburg, Zipplies will give a presentation in Hall Nine at the Royal Showgrounds. He will also attend an Eco-Schools presentation at Midmar Dam where local schools will receive Eco- Schools awards and flags. He will be joined for part of the local leg of his trip by a well- known cyclist, Bridget Ringdahl. She is author of the books Blonde on a Bike about her travels by bicycle through South America and Nepal.

City mayors and celebrities along the cycle route have been invited to “Ride the Challenge with Robert” on an electric bicycle. He will also be joined by local cyclists. In Pretoria, on November 28, a large contingent of cyclists will support the challenge by riding through the city to the Union Buildings to ask the state president to sign the pledge.

Zipplies will give presentations in cities along his route where the Challenge team and local authorities, cycle and environmental clubs and environment-related companies will provide opportunities for members of the public to learn about climate change.

Project 90 by 2030 staff will also hold workshops at selected schools and universities along the way to encourage pupils and communities to do more to mitigate and adapt to climate change.


• Contact Mathew van Lierop 021 674 5095 or za/climatechallenge





THE editor of the book Bending the Curve, he works as a corporate sustainability consultant and helps businesses to deepen their environmental and social commitment. He runs corporate sustainability and climate-change training workshops and assists businesses to develop appropriate strategies and action plans.

He has an MSc in industrial engineering (University of the Witwatersrand) and an MBA (Rotterdam School of Management, Netherlands). He is a board member of Project 90 by 2030.

His book is a guide to tackling climate change in South Africa and is co-authored by 24 local experts. It reportedly constitutes the most comprehensive resource available to South Africans on what different sectors of society can do to mitigate climate change and adapt to it.

• Visit:




ZIPPLIES will ride an eZee electric bicycle, which looks very similar to a conventional bicycle, but is fitted with an electric motor and battery. The motor augments the human effort, thereby offering a convenient means of urban transport.

He chose an electric bicycle to “take some of the sweat out of cycling” and raise awareness of this form of transport, which is arguably the most ecofriendly form of motorised transport. The greenhouse gas emissions of travelling by e-bike are about 30 times less than travelling by small car.

THE project’s mission is “to mobilise South Africans to reduce their impact on climate change”. It works extensively with schools and other organisations to help them reduce their environmental impacts. During the challenge, Project 90 by 2030 staff will hold workshops for schools and community groups interested in reducing their carbon footprint and learning about climate change adaptation.

The Project has launched a Climate Change Pledge that encourages a commitment to taking greater action to tackle climate change. The organisation is asking all South Africans to sign this pledge.

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