December 21, 2007

Beating climate change with Clinton

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Johannesburg has instituted several programmes to fight global warming, and has forged a special bond with the Clinton Climate Initiative to beat the crisis. A UNIQUE relationship is developing between the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) and the City of Johannesburg, with the former committing substantial funding and technical support to help Johannesburg to become an energy efficient, environmentally friendly, green city.

CCI is a partnership between the Clinton Foundation and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (known as the C40), which aims to take practical and measurable steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. Usually, the foundation prefers to provide non-financial assistance.

In July, the City launched its energy efficiency programme, which includes the Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system, the energy efficiency building retrofit programme, and the solar streetlight township electrification programme. The latter two are in pilot phase.

In all of these initiatives, the CCI is providing technical assistance to Johannesburg, especially as far as energy efficient procurement, information support on technology and products, and financial and cost analysis is concerned.

But the City has also received grant assistance from the CCI. Firstly, the foundation provided a grant to hire the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy (ITDP), a leading international organisation promoting environmentally sustainable and equitable transportation worldwide, to develop the design and operational plan for Rea Vaya.

The operational transport plan was submitted to the City in July. “According to the ITDP, Rea Vaya will reduce 311 586 metric tons of [carbon dioxide] emissions from the current ‘do nothing’ scenario,” a progress report on the partnership confirmed.  The City is forging ahead with plans to extract gas from landfill sites.

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Secondly, a grant was provided to hire a climate change and cleaner production deputy director for the City. The chair was filled in November.

At the same time, the environmental management department gained the technical assistance of an acting director for project support, appointed by the Clinton initiative to give support in the implementation of joint City-CCI projects.

“The Clinton Foundation has established a unique relationship with Johannesburg due to the City’s aggressive 2010 climate change goals and the executive mayor’s leadership in the C40 and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives,” the executive director for environmental management, Flora Mokgohloa, stated in the report.

So far, Johannesburg has received technical assistance from the foundation for waste management, energy efficiency, performance-based procurement and its operational transportation plan.

The relationship between the two has strengthened since the foundation approached the City to form a partnership to fight climate change.

In May 2007, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo joined a group of some 30 business and local government leaders in New York to discuss the role cities can play in reducing climate change. Called the C40 Large Cities Climate Summit, it was only the second summit of this nature to be held. The first was held in London in 2005.

At that time the summit group also entered into a partnership with the CCI, led by former United States president Bill Clinton. The CCI assists by pooling the buying power of cities, mobilising expert assistance and facilitating the sharing of information about successful and replicable programmes.

Key initiatives

Masondo’s leadership

Executive Mayor Amos Masondo is the immediate past president of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an international association of more than 630 cities, towns, countries, national and regional local government organisations committed to locally designed initiatives for sustainable development.

He was also a panellist at the C40 Large Cities Summit on climate change in New York in May.

Mayors, governors and representatives from 45 of the world’s largest cities attended the four-day event, where they discussed issues related to water and energy conservation, the reduction of carbon emissions and alternative energy sources.

The summit was aimed at sharing knowledge on combating global warming while ensuring economic benefits for cities.

The CCI hopes to reduce energy use in buildings worldwide through a landmark new programme and the City of Johannesburg has come on board, signing agreements to join the fight against climate change.

A new procurement and financial model for 12 council-owned buildings is now in pilot phase, in which energy use will be drastically reduced through a number of measures. The pilot buildings are in Dobsonville, Ennerdale, Jabulani, Lenasia, Meadowlands, Newtown, Sandton, the Metro Centre, Museum Africa, Putco, the Roodepoort City Hall and Roodepoort Civic Centre.

“It is the City’s intention to expand the programme to retrofit as many public buildings as possible by 2010,” Mokgohloa said. She stressed that the programme went far above and beyond lighting retrofits; it included boiler and chiller plant optimisation; improvements to electrical systems; roof, window and building improvements; and indirectly through procurement savings, among other things.

A second initiative will look at solar power, still underutilised in sunny South Africa. City Power is identifying areas where solar street lighting can be implemented and appropriate technologies used. A flexible photovoltaic system, which can be laminated to most structures, is being explored and City Power is working closely with the CCI to plan a possible roll out.

Lessons learned and alternative approaches are being looked at together with Beka, the company that was responsible for the Zandspruit solar street lighting pilot project.

Apart from assistance with the BRT operational plan, the CCI is working with the City’s transportation department to analyse various propulsion systems and fuel types. The CCI is also exploring price discounts for BRT buses for C40 cities. A traffic congestion workshop will be held in December where C40 cities will share experiences in hybrid diesel and ethanol buses, station design, fare collection and financing.

Another energy efficiency possibility is a landfill gas-to-energy project, with a report recently completed in which the eight proposal bids for gas extraction were evaluated. The project entails the trapping of the methane gas, generated as a result of landfill decomposition, into gas wells and then flaring or using the gas to generate electricity.

Four open landfill sites, at Goudkoppies, Robinson Deep, Marie Louise and Ennerdale, and six closed landfill sites, at Linbro Park, Kya Sands, Mapetla, Panorama, Waterval, Meredale, in Johannesburg were identified to have good potential for gas extraction.

Cities consume three quarters of the world’s energy and account for 75 percent of global carbon emissions. Delegates at the 2007 C40 summit agreed that “the fight against climate change will therefore be won or lost in cities”.

The C40 cities, of which Johannesburg is one, have publicly declared that “the world’s largest cities have a critical role to play in the reduction of carbon emissions and the reversal of dangerous climate change”.

They are Addis Ababa, Athens, Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Caracas, Chicago, Delhi, Dhaka, Hanoi, Houston, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Jakarta, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lagos, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto and Warsaw. There are also 12 affiliate cities.



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