Committed to sustainability

The City of Cape Town is fully committed to its Energy and Climate Change Strategy with clear objectives and targets, and a long list of projects and programmes to achieve these goals.
Taken from – enviroworks | Volume 82/09 December 2009
With the world sitting up and taking notice of climate change and its effects, local governments and institutions are taking the lead in the fight against this global problem. The City of Cape Town is starting to link climate change to its development strategy and sees the opportunities for creating a lower carbon, more modern, liveable and equitable city, which builds on its competitive advantages.
The City’s Energy and Climate Change Strategy of 2006 sets out the vision, objectives, targets, measures and projects for all City energy activities. It is based on the State of Energy Report, which maps out Cape Town’s energy profile, and also on issues such as the city’s energy security, residents’ access to energy services and vulnerability to climate change impacts.
Alongside this, the City developed the Framework for Adaptation to Climate Change in the City of Cape Town (FAC4T).
The City has set itself a number of goals, including:
• a 10% reduction in electricity consumption on the 2006/7 baseline by 2014;
• energy-efficient lighting in 90% of all households by 2020;
• a 10% decrease in private vehicles commuting into the city centre by 2010;
• 10% renewable energy supply by 2020.
Further strengthening these commitments, the City has incorporated the following related targets into its Environmental Agenda, which Council approved in June 2009 and are to be achieved by July 2014:
    The development and endorsement of a progressive and effective Climate Change Adaptation Plan of Action (based on the FAC4T Framework)
• A reduction in the per capita carbon footprint to an annual average of 5 tonnes (a total reduction of 20 million tonnes) in CO² equivalents
• Improved electricity efficiency to achieve a 10% reduction on the total 2007 consumption figures by 2014
To achieve this, in 2008, the City made “Energy for a sustainable city” one of the priority strategic focus areas of its Integrated Development Plan (IDP), which sets long-term goals for Cape Town up to the year 2020. To drive this focus area, the Mayoral Committee determined that an Energy and Climate Change Committee of 11 councillors should be established (in terms of Section 80 of the Municipal Systems Act). This committee is supported by an Executive Management Team Subcommittee on Energy and Climate Change, and three crosscutting work streams, which respectively address energy security, adaptation and awareness.
What’s happening?
The City currently has a large number of programmes and projects under way, which address carbon mitigation through energy efficiency or renewable energy initiatives.
Some of these projects are discussed in greater detail further on in this newsletter, but a few deserve to be highlighted here.
The inclusion of greening measures in the Council rental stock upgrade programme is one of several low income housing projects to ensure that homes in Cape Town are retrofitted with energy-efficient
lighting, low flow toilets and insulated ceilings. Streetlights and traffic lights are being retrofitted with energy efficient lamps and systems as well.
The Integrated Rapid Transit programme is aimed at improving public transport, thereby encouraging private car users to switch to public transport. This will reduce the city’s carbon footprint. With some 6 000 vehicles in its fleet, the City is setting an example by pursuing compliance with national and local air quality legislation through its Greening the Fleet programme.


To read more about the City of Cape Town’s energy and climate change initiatives, go to, and download the Cape Town Energy and Climate Change Strategy
and other related documents.

In terms of renewable energy sources, thus far, the City is the only metropole in South Africa purchasing wind power (from the Darling
Wind Farm). Regulations are also being developed to facilitate the installation of micro wind turbines on private residences for windgenerated electricity, and to develop
projects using methane from landfill sites and sewerage works for electricity generation.
A key focus of the City’s climate change communication and education programmes is the Smart Living Handbook – a practical guide for Capetonians to make their homes safer and more cost-effective, while working to reduce their impact on our precious environment. The Youth Environmental School (YES) programme has made energy and climate change its major focus in 2009.
Another major research project is the City’s Sea-level Rise Assessment, which has entailed a risk assessment to formulate a range of sea-level rise scenarios with which the City may have to contend.
Many of these projects are being conducted through the Urban Environmental Management Programme (UEMP), which is funded by the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) as well as by the City.

Elsewhere in South Africa
• Just like Cape Town, other South African cities are also addressing energy and climate change issues. Durban launched its Municipal Climate Protection Programme in 2004, and more recently, added the Durban Industry Climate Change Partnership Project.
• Down the coast, in Port Elizabeth, the Renewable Energies Pilot Project is testing a hybrid energy system, comprising solar panels, a wind turbine and battery storage in a typical house, while pilot projects are investigating the dimming of city streetlights to save energy, and a wind turbine on the Hobie Beach pier to promote renewable energy sources.
• Up in Johannesburg, the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit System will reduce current CO² emission levels by 311 586 tonnes through promoting safe, reliable public transport, and reducing the number of private vehicles and taxis on the road. The installation of solar water heaters and energy efficient lighting is another big focus in the Gauteng capital.


A good book, some tea and a little bit of earth changing advice

I joined a library today. The first time I’ve had a library card since school, and it was a really great feeling. Books are so expensive in SA, and we buy them and they get read once and sit on a bookshelf, waiting for someone to pick them up again. And today I picked up a great book. Well two great books – but my enjoyment of Terry Pratchett is maybe not so well suited to the title of this post… The more relevant book is called ‘The New Energy Book for Urban Development in South Africa’ and it’s written by Sarah Ward, who I had been told had written a book. It’s the second edition, published in 2008 and so it’s up to date and a great read. It’s so easy to read actually. The energy crisis and global warming are topics that can be so confusing, and we’re often pumped full of facts and figures, which makes it hard to link it back to our lives. There are simple tips for cutting down on our own personal energy consumption and good ideas for people living without easy access to electricity. It also explains what renewable energies are and what kind of technologies are currently available to harness them.

It’s nice to read a book that’s actually aimed at the South African public, and is not some text book from Western Europe saying how we should all spend hundreds of Euros, when most of us don’t actually have that. The book is published by Sustainable Energy Africa, who are based in The Green Building in Westlake, which, from what I can tell seems to be a hub of renewable and sustainable energy fundis. Windlab, who I mentioned in the previous post, is also based there.
The Green Building is worthy of a post on its own… but here’s a link for now


The thing is that I picked this book up just because it looked interesting and only found out who had written it when I got home. Turns out I’m meeting with her next week. Such good timing, I couldn’t have planned it better.

A bit about the book:

Sustainable Energy Africa It’s worth taking a look. Time for some tea, and a good read…


The little world that is Cape Town

The subject of this post seems to infer that I hold a negative view of CT.  Admittedly it has been a frustrating experience spending the last three months looking for a job, which is still eluding me.  But this would be the case no matter where I am in the world at the moment, as I’m trying to do that very difficult thing in a career – change direction.  My current feeling is that Cape Town is incredibly small, in exactly the same way that London isn’t.  And holding on tightly to this understanding is helping me to keep a bit of perspective.

I’m trying to get into a field that the entire world is talking about too.  Almost like a 59 year old deciding she wanted to be part of the dotcom era in the late 90’s.  Although I suppose that if this boom goes bust we’re all in a lot of trouble.  My decision to run off to England for two years like every other South Africa instead of staying home and following up on an engineering degree is causing me just this little bit of grief now.

Sustainable energy development, and the promotion of energy efficiency are new and growing arenas in Cape Town.  There’s so much potential here, and the money being pumped into wind farms up the West Coast are indicators of people acknowledging this.
Some companies that I’ve come across in my wandering through this small world:
They’re tracking and mapping wind patterns in South Africa, and they’ve done the same in Australia, Canada and the US.  They’re doing feasibility and environmental impact studies, and they seem nice to boot.
The Green Building Council of South Africa –
A fairly new council, but its impact should be pretty far reaching, if their estimation is true; that 40-50% of the world’s energy consumption is through building construction and operation.  The GBCSA is trying to formulate and implement a rating system for the design and operation of buildings with an aim of minimising the environmental impact of development.  This is with regards to energy, but also to do with water consumption, pollutants and a whole lot more.  Interesting.  They’re also teaming up with larger organisations who act as their technical consultants – like one of their founding members WSP…  So there’s knowledge sharing, and what feels to me like a commitment and a passion to see a change in South Africa.


WSP’s project manager Manfred Braune explains: “The Green Star SA rating tool is an independent rating tool that is a powerful means of transforming the property industry towards more sustainable development – this has been proven in many countries across the world where Green Building Councils have been implementing rating tools.”

How exciting.  It’s growing.  This network of clever people hoping to be part of something good is forming, and I really just want to be part of it!
If you have anything to share about this, or any advice – I’m all ears.

Here’s to not making our blue planet brown.