MAYOR OF CAPE TOWN TALKS VERY TOUGH ON CLIMATE CHANGE (PHOTOS)

Good evening, goeie naand, molweni, as-salaam alaikum, shalom.

 

It is a great pleasure to join like-minded people and organisations who are committed to responding to climate change in our city.

 

The impact of climate change has the ability to compound existing challenges in urban environments.

 

For this reason, the City of Cape Town is overlaying all our decisions that we make on a daily basis with the impacts of climate change.

 

We cannot plan anything without factoring in the impact of climate change.

 

Climate change is a challenge increasingly being tackled by mayors around the world.

 

Former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, said: “Climate change may be the most complicated challenge of our time” and in his new book Climate of Hope, he deals with how we can solve it.

 

Bloomberg says we can do this not by slowing down economies, but by speeding them up; not by depending on national governments, but by empowering cities, businesses and residents; not by scaring people about the future, but by showing them the immediate benefits of taking action.

 

We are not waiting for national governments and large corporations to act.

 

We are responsible for the growth and well-being of our local economies and our residents.

 

We therefore need to see the opportunities presented by climate change and factor in our response to climate change in all the work we do so that we can build more resilient cities.

 

Since I last addressed the Climate Change Coalition I can report on several new initiatives in the City.

 

We have a new draft Climate Change Policy which is our first dedicated climate change response policy.

 

The draft Climate Change Policy is a new approach for the City of Cape Town.

 

Previously, consideration of climate change issues fell under a more general environmental policy, however it has been recognised that climate change is such an important, cross-cutting, and consequential issue that it requires its own dedicated policy approach.

 

This policy highlights the importance of recognising the economic and social dimensions of climate change, in addition to the environmental consequences, and working towards implementing responses to climate change that address these economic and social issues.

 

The draft Climate Change Policy focuses on both climate change mitigation and adaptation and aims to address these both in an integrated and innovative way.

 

The policy went out for public participation in November and December of last year.

 

Over 750 comments were received through the process, and many of these provided useful insights that allowed us to improve the policy. I would like to thank those of you here tonight who contributed your comments and suggestions.

 

It is expected that this policy will be formally adopted by Council as soon as possible.

 

Cape Town is a member of the C40 Climate Leadership Group (a network of over 90 cities working to reduce carbon emissions and climate risks) and a signatory of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy.

 

As such, the City is committed to reporting its energy and climate data to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) annually. Last year Cape Town was named one of the top five reporting cities out of the 533 participating cities globally.

 

The City’s Energy2040 Goal, which models a more resilient, resource-efficient and equitable future for Cape Town, commits the City to diversifying Cape Town’s energy supply and reducing carbon emissions.

 

Central to this will be the ability to source 20% of Cape Town’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. This requires a significant shift in the City’s approach and control over energy supply sources.

 

In order to put the necessary new emphasis on energy generation, the City has established a new Directorate of Energy through our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP).

 

This change is in line with our ODTP transformational priorities to position Cape Town as a forward-looking, innovative, globally competitive business city and to enhance resource-efficiency and security.

 

This Directorate has been tasked with transforming the energy landscape in Cape Town, where we will no longer merely just be distributors of electricity but we will also generate our own clean energy.

 

We want Capetonians to have a greater choice over how they consume energy and the price they pay for it.

 

We intend to contract with independent power producers (IPPs) of renewable energy and will pursue this relentlessly, using all available means with national government to ensure it is achieved.

 

I have said previously that we are going to take the Minister of Energy to court to fight for our right to purchase renewable energy directly from IPPs.

 

We have briefed the best legal counsel in the country, led by SC Advocate Wim Trengrove, to get clarity on the best way forward in terms of claiming our right to purchase electricity from whom we so choose.

 

This will be a complex legal battle but it must be understood that we are doing this not just because we want to buy electricity from IPPs, but because we believe that the whole institutional regime governing energy in the country is completely outdated and needs to be reformed.

 

Hopefully with the City of Cape Town taking on this legal battle, it will be the start of just such a reform.

 

And we will promote the responsible installation of grid-tied small-scale embedded generation, particularly in the form of rooftop PV panels.

 

At this time, contracts have been signed with over 80 commercial and industrial customers and 196 residential customers who are able to feed into the City’s grid.

 

Both the large-scale cleaner energy supply and the small-scale embedded generation projects I have just mentioned are included in the draft Integrated Development Plan (IDP) for 2017 – 2022.

 

Cape Town has also made substantial gains in energy efficiency and now, relative to other South African cities, uses significantly less electricity per unit of production and per person.

 

The electricity saving campaigns for both the commercial and residential sectors has been very successful in promoting energy efficiency and since 2009, the City has been leading by example by implementing energy efficiency retrofit programmes within municipal operations.

 

Some examples include the fact that all 1 500 traffic lights now have efficient LED bulbs and more than 25 000 street lights have been retrofitted.

An LED street light in Table View

The lighting retrofitting of the City’s main administrative building, the Civic Centre, has been completed where 20 000 light fittings have been upgraded to LED technology, with occupancy sensors linked to timers and daylight harvesting.

 

The payback period is less than three years, and the electricity demand saving of 1,2 Megawatts will save an additional R6 million in the first year and more than R36 million over the next five years.

 

The City has also included a specific climate adaptation response in the 2017 – 2022 IDP. The climate adaptation plan is intended to build resilience and adapt to the projected impacts of climate change, many of which are already being felt.

 

Climate change will have significant impacts on the availability of water in our city, and the current drought provides us with the perfect opportunity to focus on our minds on the appropriate responses to ensure that we can maintain the health and well-being our people and our economy.

 

There are immediate interventions that are being undertaken to respond to the drought crisis.

 

We simply have to save water while there is still water to be saved. Councillor Xanthea Limberg will elaborate on the various efforts under way later on.

 

We are currently reviewing our 30-year water plan to give greater consideration to climate change so that we can to see a shift where Cape Town will become a water-sensitive city.

 

This concept means managing all urban water (stormwater, groundwater, rivers and treated wastewater effluent) in an integrated way, with the ultimate aim of being able to use these as sources of drinking water.

 

I will also be inviting a water expert, Mr Leslie Darling from the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, to visit the City of Cape Town to share best practice solutions with our Water and Sanitation Management Department.

 

We will also be meeting with the business community in the next few weeks to engage with them on some of their water supply and conservation ideas because we realise that again in this time of crisis, there are many opportunities to be tapped into.

 

We fundamentally have the opportunity to improve resource efficiencies in our local economy, whether it is water, energy, waste or biodiversity.

 

Our provincial government has also asked me to briefly share with you some of their initiatives aimed at tackling climate change, such as the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy and SmartAGri Implementation Plan.

 

In recognising that the Western Cape is already a water-stressed province, in 2014 the Western Cape Government launched the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy which is a coordinated climate change response and will guide the collective implementation of innovative projects as well as the search for opportunities that combine a low-carbon development trajectory with increased climate resilience, enhancement of ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as economic growth and job creation.

 

The focus of the Strategy is on pragmatic approaches to be implemented locally in an integrated way.

 

The Strategy includes a number of focus areas and priority programmes which include water security and management, food security, healthy communities, and biodiversity ecosystem goods and services, which all have strong linkages with our water resources.

 

A core focus of the Strategy was the mainstreaming of climate change responses into sectoral functions and operations.

The drought in the Western Cape is withering and stunting vegetation across this crop-producing region. Most of South Africa’s wheat is produced in the Western Cape. Picture: Leon Lestrade

The SmartAgri Implementation Plan launched in 2016 was the first climate change response sector plan developed in the Western Cape.

 

SmartAgri is a partnership project between the Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs and Development, which is a roadmap for actionable and prioritised initiatives that will take the agricultural sector towards greater resilience in the face of climate challenges.

 

In closing, I was recently invited to become a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate which is an initiative aimed at exploring how countries can achieve economic growth while dealing with the risks of climate change.

 

With the former President of Mexico and the former Nigerian Minister of Finance as the chair and co-chair respectively, I share a commissioner role along with the former Mayor of Rio and various members from the global academic sector and the private sector.

 

Among other things, this initiative has a strong emphasis on encouraging compact, connected and coordinated development, which aligns well with the new strategic priority of the City of working to achieve dense and transit-oriented growth and development.

 

Considerable work is planned by the City in this area over the next five years, all of which will contribute to both mitigating and adapting to climate change.

 

Through the Global Commission I intend to both share some of the successes in Cape Town on responding to climate change, but also to critically engage with other government leaders about how to seek economic opportunities in responding to climate change.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your commitment to responding to climate change in general, and to the drought crisis in particular.

 

I look forward to hearing more about what our partners and members of the business community are doing this evening.

 

Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi, shukran.

-Independent Online

TOP PHOTO: Mayor Patricia de Lille said savings in energy cuts will result in R6 million saving in the first year and more than R36 million over the next five years.

 
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