Climate change: Join the call to build a stronger Cape Town

Here’s what you can do in your home or workplace

25 May 2021 - 11:30
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There are many simple actions that everyone can take to make the city stronger.
There are many simple actions that everyone can take to make the city stronger.
Image: Supplied/City of Cape Town

Climate change can’t be ignored. Not when we can feel and see its effects all around us on a daily basis and have already experienced the economic, social and environmental impact. The City of Cape Town recognises the need for urgent climate action and has long been a leader in Africa for its climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. 

The city’s newly launched climate change response and resilience campaign, “Let’s Act. For a Stronger Cape Town”, aims to encourage residents, communities, businesses and organisations to join the call to help build a stronger, healthier, more equal and sustainable future-fit Cape Town. 

How climate change is affecting Cape Town:

  • Decreasing levels of average annual rainfall and changing seasonality of rainfall, which affects the amount of water to which we have access;
  • An increase in the average annual temperature and increased maximum temperatures, which means hotter days, and more frequent and intense heatwaves;
  • An increase in the average wind and maximum wind strength; and
  • Rising sea levels and increased coastal erosion.

Capetonians are familiar with the impact of climate change due to the drought experienced in recent years. But by working together, water use was reduced by 50% to avoid the worst. No other city in the world has managed to achieve this. Collaborative action is what we need to become stronger, more resilient and to help reduce the impact of climate change. 

There are many simple actions, some big and some small, that everyone can take to make the city stronger.

What is the city doing?

In support of the growing global momentum to tackle climate change, Cape Town and other cities — in SA and worldwide — have committed to working to achieve the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality and climate resilience by 2050. Reducing global warming is key. These necessary targets can only be reached through significant transitions in urban form, energy sources, transport and resource efficiency. 

The city is also completing a Climate Change Action Plan with many programmes in place that support climate change adaptation, mitigation and climate resilience, and is working towards growing these.

Adaptation

In the adaptation and resilience work area, projects include:

  • improving our water resilience;
  • conserving our biodiversity and protecting coastal areas; and 
  • enabling appropriate nodal development through the adoption of a coastal urban edge.

Mitigation

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the city’s mitigation efforts include:

  • driving energy efficiency in our own municipal operations;
  • moving towards net-zero carbon buildings;
  • developing our own clean energy generation;
  • procuring energy from independent power producers;
  • enabling small-scale embedded generation;
  • reducing and diverting waste; and
  • building an efficient transport network.

Over the past 10 years, the city’s energy efficiency in municipal operations programme has saved more than 231GWH of electricity. This is enough electricity to power 35 clinics for more than 10 years and translates into 229,035 tonnes of avoided carbon emissions. A few highlights include:

  • 60 city buildings retrofitted to make them more efficient;
  • all traffic lights retrofitted with LED lights;
  • 563 kWp installed rooftop solar PV on city buildings; and
  • 34% of street lights retrofitted.

Actions you can take in your home or workplace:

  • Start or support a neighbourhood food garden;
  • Reduce water usage;
  • Change light bulbs to more energy-efficient ones;
  • Switch off non-essential lights;
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances;
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle, including organic waste through home composting;
  • Walk or cycle to the local shop;
  • Invest in a solar PV system or a solar water heater and save on electricity bills;
  • Plant indigenous, water-wise plants and trees in the garden;
  • Teach children about living more sustainably;
  • Investigate how your community, neighbourhood watch, and faith-based groups can get involved in climate and community action to make us, and our city, more resilient;
  • Empower colleagues with knowledge about sustainability and practical solutions in the office such as reducing paper printing; and
  • Buy sustainably produced and organic food where possible. Let local shops know that you demand more sustainable products.

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality means introducing new technologies to clean up the fuels and activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions and global warming while enhancing our social, economic and environmental goals.

Read more about the City’s Carbon Neutral 2050 commitment.

Join the movement. Let’s Act. For a Stronger Cape Town.

Resources:

This article was paid for by the City of Cape Town.

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