Cutting carbon emissions

2015-05-05 06:00

Exhaust fumes, bright lights and the hum of air conditioning units are all part of a bustling city centre.

But they are adding to the around 900 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by the Cape Town CBD per year.

In 2012, the CBD produced 881 000 tonnes and consumed 7 100 terajoules of energy, according to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID)’s report on the state of the central city.

This is the equivalent to the power drawn by over four quadrillion LED light bulbs.

If unchecked, energy usage in 2030 will grow to 12 600 terajoules, the report projects.

Reducing this carbon footprint has become the focus of a strategy the Cape Town Partnership, a non-profit organisation which liaises between different role-players to bring about transformation in the city.

The strategy focuses on two main aspects: collecting research data and implementing solutions to reduce carbon emissions.

Cape Town Partnership spokesperson Skye Grove says having data allows the organisation to better understand the emissions on a small neighbourhood scale and make informed policy and action decisions.

“The low-carbon central city strategy is based around policy and action – connecting good planning with practical improvements for a more environmentally friendly and resilient central city,” she says.

The strategy has concentrated on raising awareness since inception last year, Grove says. “Phase one, which was the research and recommendations phase, was all about getting the data and communicating it to a wider audience,” she says.

This has seen numerous people accessing infographics and information released by the organisation.

The partnership is currently fundraising to implement the second phase of the strategy.

This phase will see trials of some of the policy recommendations, both on the streets and in buildings, Grove explains.

Change is, however, already underway.

Residents and organisations from all sides are already starting to do things that encourage a lower-carbon way of living and working in the city, Grove says.

The City of Cape Town recently installed 800 sodium vapour street lights for more efficient lighting and is in the process of rolling out new financial incentives and packages to make solar water heating and electricity generation a reality for central city residents.

“Businesses are slowly starting to adopt carpooling incentives and both city and provincial governments are installing meters in their buildings to monitor their energy consumption,” Grove says.

Increased MyCiTi bus services have also given public transport a boost, Grove says, which is vital in reducing carbon emissions.

Although cars account for 54% of passenger kilometres created by commuters to the CBD, they account for over 87% of all the transport energy to and in the CBD.

“We need more people to get out of their cars,” she says.

“Think about what it would be like if companies banded together to launch an electric bike share system, helping employees and clients move around sustainably from one building to another. So many fewer cars would be on the road.”

This would mean less time spent driving around looking for parking or in traffic, Grove says.

“The central city is one part of a larger city, small in geography but vital in terms of use,” she adds.

“By working together to lower our carbon footprint, we can ensure that we’re going further to reduce the entire metro-region’s footprint, and helping to mitigate for the increased effects of climate change.”

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