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Cape Town promises a low-carbon, climate-smart new year

On 7 January 2011, in News, by Andrew Bennett

The Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties (COP 16) is over, and all eyes now focus on South Africa, where the commitments that began to coalesce in Cancun will need to find firmer footing at COP 17 in Durban next December.

And the City of Cape Town is ready to learn from this vital international event, in order to ensure that Cape Town’s policies and behaviour do not further contribute to the suffering and distress brought about by climate change.

‘The City of Cape Town will pull out all the stops to participate actively throughout the year, and particularly at the Convention, to underline our commitment as one of Africa’s leaders in mitigating against and combating climate change,’ Executive Mayor Alderman Dan Plato told Council earlier this month.

‘Climate change poses a serious challenge to our society, communities and the world, and ‘Cape Town is leading the way in moving from debate to action.’

The City is focusing on both reducing its carbon footprint, as well as on understanding what the impacts of climate change are likely to be and building greater resilience  to these impacts: ‘Even if we completely halted carbon emissions today, we would not be able to escape the legacy of carbon-rich human activity in recent years,’ said Alderman Plato.

In the Western Cape we are likely to experience warmer temperatures, reduced annual rainfall and an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events. Cape Town is paying particular attention to those disadvantaged communities who are most at risk of climate-related distress.

Cape Town is already a leader in promoting energy efficiency and climate action. And after many years of research by the City’s Environmental Resource Management team, and others, in June this year the City’s Energy and Climate Action Plan was adopted by Council. And now, there is significant potential for the City to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by COP 17 being hosted in South Africa – both within and outside the city, says Alderman Plato. ‘Climate Smart Cape Town 2011’ is how we are going to do it…’ In fact, Climate Smart Cape Town has already begun, with the Deputy Mayor’s attendance at the Mayor’s Climate Summit in Mexico City. At this conference, Cape Town became the first city in Africa to sign the important Mexico City Pact, committing cities to certain actions and reporting procedures in respect of their carbon emissions.

Climate Smart 2011 will bring the message of climate change, including techniques for mitigation and adaptation, to everyone in Cape Town, and will suggest ways in which we can all live lower carbon lives, at home and at work. And until then, please be smart and visit the City’s electricity saving site for more information about climate change and role played by carbon, and electricity, in heating up the globe.

City of Cape Town
January 2011

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