The world’s climate is changing. Future (slow onset) changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables will alter Cape Town's soil moisture and mean sea level. Some locations will be more susceptible to floods and droughts.
On a global scale, warming of approximately 0.2°C per decade is predicted for the next two decades. Impacts associated with global average temperature increase, include impacts on:
- Socio-economic and settlement landscape
- Water availability and floods
- Changes in the rainfall pattern and aquifer recharge and droughts
- Biodiversity / ecosystems
- Commercial forestry
- Land use
What needs to be done to affect climate change
As many hazards are linked to climate change, all positive contributions by the world’s communities will have some influence on the impact of these hazards.
We need to consciously redesign the entire material basis of our civilization. The model we replace it with must be dramatically more ecologically sustainable and be able to offer large increases of prosperity for everyone on this planet. This is a major task, but if we all start with small steps that will influence the bigger systems to which we are all connected, we will be well on our way.
Here are some positive approaches to implement in our homes and communities - this will serve as encouragement for others to do so as well:
- Reduce our carbon footprint.
- Cut our electricity and energy use and buy “green power”.
- Design our homes and lives to be more ecologically friendly, and use only what we need.
- Practice responsible consumerism and buying and eating better organic food.
- Use our gardens sustainably – practice urban farming, compost and grow our own vegetables.
- Conserve water.
- Recycle as much as possible and use resources creatively.
- Find the best practices around, adopt them and improve them.
- In business, sell sustainable products which the buyers really need.
- Support sustainable and organic farming practices.
- Save fuel and use public transport whenever possible.
- Encourage the greening of the city approach.
- Communicate your new lifestyle to others.
Cape Town’s unfavourable carbon footprint
A recent climate change study which analysed greenhouse gases from 100 cities in 33 countries determined that Cape Town emits more greenhouse gases per capita than major cities like London and New York.
The study was not limited to the City’s municipal area and instead covered the greater Cape Town region, including flight and harbour emissions (which should be part of the national carbon emissions inventory account, as opposed to an individual city’s account). The Cape Town metropole emits approximately 5.8 tons of carbon per capita (measured in 2007) as compared with the 11.7 tons per capita reflected in the study.
The City has always maintained that Cape Town’s emissions are unacceptably high and has implemented programmes to mitigate against this. For the City to be successful, residents need to take responsibility for the future. We need to work together to bring down our carbon emissions and a few small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Visit the Climate Smart Cape Town website
Tips to bring down carbon emissions and electricity bills:
Use less hot water
- Maintaining a geyser temperature of 55 degrees Celsius uses considerably less energy than the standard 70 degrees Celsius. However, the geyser should not be dropped below 55 degrees Celsius.
- In most cases, the thermostat is located inside the cover over the electrical element of the geyser. To lower the temperature, switch off the electricity circuit at the mains, undo the cover, and then turn down the thermostat using a screwdriver. Alternatively, hire a plumber to assist you.
- Insulate your geyser and water pipes leading to the geyser (for 3 metres) to maximise heat retention.
Switch off equipment when not in use
- It helps to shower instead of bath, and to take shorter showers.
- Install a water efficient shower-head.
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.
- Wash a full load of dishes, rather than one dish at a time.
- Use cold water where possible for laundry washing.
- Don’t waste cold water by letting it run down the drain while waiting for it to get hot. Fill bottles and decant this water into kettles, fridge water containers and cooking pots as needed.
Reduce pool pump operation
- Turn appliances off at the wall plug, rather than leaving them on standby. While on standby, appliances can still draw 20% (or more) of the electricity that they draw when in use.
- Turn the geyser off when you go on holiday.
Reduce excessive heating or cooling
- If you have a pool with a cleaning system pump, drop its operating hours to the minimum, i.e. six hours a day.
- Clean the filters regularly and consider installing a pool cover and switching off the pump in winter.
‘Invest to save’ – install a solar water heater
- Heaters and air conditions are a large drain on power. Use localised equipment rather than central air-conditioning or heating systems, and only heat or cool occupied rooms by closing the doors of unoccupied rooms.
- The room temperature should not be more than 10 degrees Celsius above the outside/ambient temperature.
- Fan or oil heaters with thermostats are best.
- Avoid under-floor heating.
- In summer use a fan rather than air-conditioning.
- The best ‘no cost’ saving option is to wear warmer clothing in winter and open the windows in summer!
Install a heat pump
- Solar heaters typically save about two-thirds of a household’s water heating cost, but this varies according to household. They should be installed with a timer for the best possible saving.
- With rising electricity tariffs and the new subsidies from Eskom, the payback period for a solar heater is now no more than five years.
Insulate the ceiling/roof
- Heat pumps can serve as an alternative if a solar water heater is not a viable option.
- Heat pumps can achieve similar savings, but are a relatively new technology for homes, so they are not well tested yet and may require more maintenance than a solar water heater.
Install efficient lighting
- Good ceiling and roof insulation can keep the home up to five degrees Celsius warmer in winter, and 10 degrees Celsius cooler in summer. More comfortable indoor temperatures lessen the need for electrical heating and cooling.
- Savings of about 75% are possible when adding insulation.
- Insulating other parts of the home also helps. For example, preventing heat loss through windows or under doors. Use draft stoppers (also known as draft sausages or draft snakes) to stop drafts under doors.
- Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) use 75% less power than old incandescent bulbs, and they last much longer. Remember to dispose of these bulbs safely due to their potentially harmful chemicals.
- LEDs are even more efficient and last 130 times longer than CFL bulbs; they serve as an ideal replacement for halogen down-lighting.
All residents should monitor their electricity consumption and costs and all those in your home should to do the same, including children and domestic workers. Energy-efficient equipment goes hand in hand with a change in behaviour. (It’s no use installing energy-efficient lighting if you leave lights on when you’re not in the room!)
Projects for a sustainable city
Many projects are underway to make Cape Town a more sustainable city. These include:
- The City’s Electricity Savings campaign.
- The City supports the ICLEI (local governments for sustainable development) Strategic Plan for 2010 – 2015.
- The Climate Adaptation Plan of Action which seeks to reduce energy consumption.
- Traffic lights have been retrofitted with energy efficient LEDs.
- Public streetlights have been fitted with energy-efficient high-pressure sodium lamps.
- The City launched Africa’s first Clean Development Mechanism project in the Kuyasa informal settlement.
- The mass roll-out of solar water heaters.
- Greening of housing developments.
- Institution of green building guidelines.
- The Smart Living awareness campaign and Smart Events Handbook. Visit Environmental Resource Management for more details.
- The sale of Green Energy certificates from the Darling Wind Farm to offset energy. Visit the Electricity website for more details.
- Education programmes at schools in the metro.
- Carbon offset projects as part of Green Goal 2010.
- Waste projects to use methane as an energy source.
- The City participates in Earth Hour annually.
Cape Town aims to consume 10% less energy by 2012. This will be achieved through a proactive roll-out of solar water heaters and an electricity savings campaign. The City is also encouraging more compact and resource-efficient development.
For more information on ways to save electricity at home, visit:
Weather alerts and warnings to enhance preparedness
The SA Weather Service
provides notifications regarding weather alerts and warnings regarding the forecast weather conditions, for the public to be informed and prepared.