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Energy and climate change

The City of Cape Town has recognised the threats which climate change pose to the well-being of society, the economy and the environment. It has taken a number of actions to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions as well as preparation to adapt to climate impacts. Concurrently, the City is confronted with a myriad of energy issues, such as supply shortages and heavy dependence on fossil fuels. The majority of Cape Town emissions come from the coal-dominated electricity sector. The second largest emissions contributor is the transportation sector. Climate vulnerabilities principally revolve around forecasted sea-level rise, flooding and increased water stress due to lower rainfall.

The City’s Integrated Metropolitan Environmental Policy (IMEP) forms the basis for a series of strategies and programmes to ensure that the principles of sustainability are adhered to in a developing city context. IMEP recognises the critical role of energy with regard to development and the negative effects that energy production may have on the environment and health of communities due to greenhouse gas emissions. Thus the City has developed and adopted an integrated approach between energy and climate change, with IMEP promoting:

  • The consideration of energy efficiency in all functions and activities
  • A commitment to discourage the use of inefficient energy fuels and those that are characterised by high pollution levels
  • Reducing energy wastage
  • Investigation, support and promotion of alternative, renewable, cleaner and safer energy sources

This alignment of policy is a clear indication that the City has taken a proactive role in managing its energy futures to safeguard its economy, infrastructure and vulnerable communities. Furthermore, the reality of climate change means that industrialised developing countries such as South Africa are highly likely, in the future, to be required to meet carbon emission reduction targets. As most energy is used in cities, the City of Cape Town is determined to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions.

The City became the first city in Africa to develop an Energy and Climate Change Strategy in 2006. In 2008, the City added a new strategic focus area - ‘Energy for a Sustainable City’ to its Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The IDP has eight strategic focus areas that serve as key informants of city development. To drive this new strategic focus area, an Energy and Climate Change political committee (comprising of Councillors) was created and is backed up by a team of high level City officials – the Executive Management Team. In order to integrate this cross-cutting sector throughout Council systems, three work streams have been established: (i) Energy Security and Carbon Mitigation, (ii) Adaptation and Climate Resilience, and (iii) Communication and Education. View a flow diagram here.

The strategy integrates sustainable energy approaches into the core functions of the City, promotes greenhouse gas mitigation measures, and lastly sets out preparation measures for expected climate change impacts. All of which are spearheaded by the City’s Environmental Resource Management Department and dedicated Energy and Climate Change unit.

Various projects and programmes concerning energy and climate change are run by the Environmental Resource Management Department. The City is involved in 50 programme areas, made up of more than 115 projects, that are co-ordinated through an Energy and Climate Change Action Plan that will see a lower carbon, more modern, liveable and equitable city which builds on its competitive advantages.

A specific programme underway is the DoRA (Division of Revenue Act) Municipal Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM) programme.

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© City of Cape Town, 2016