I am pleased to announce that Cape Town has reduced its energy-related carbon emissions by 4,1% during the 2012 to 2015 period that was evaluated as part of the City’s latest State of the Environment Report. 

Thanks to the City’s climate action projects, less carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere, thus reducing our impact on global warming.
This achievement is testament to the City’s efforts to be a leader among a network of global cities (the C40 Cities initiative) that is increasingly taking action to reduce their CO2 emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world and cities as the drivers of change are the key to tackling this global phenomenon to protect the wellbeing of our citizens and our environment. 
As a member of the C40 Cities, Cape Town is committed to meeting the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement and we will continue working with cities across the world to reduce emissions and take hard decisions to adapt to the impacts of climate change such as low rainfall. 
In 2017, Cape Town was ranked among the top five cities in the world out of 533 cities evaluated for demonstrating leadership in our climate disclosure. Through this disclosure we measure our energy and climate action data annually and report the findings to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Other cities in the top five include Mexico City, Paris, Sydney, and Vancouver.
In the City’s latest State of the Environment Report, we have looked at both Cape Town’s carbon emissions profile and its carbon footprint. Cape Town’s per capita energy-related carbon footprint was calculated to be 5.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Cape Town currently measures its carbon footprint on an annual basis with in-depth updates carried out every five years (based on the Cape Town State of Energy Report series), and high-level updates every year in between. The City reports emissions according to the Global Protocol for Community Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories (GPC) to ensure consistency of methodology with global best practice as well as transparency of data and assumptions used.
The city’s reduction of carbon emissions is largely due to a significant reduction in electricity consumption. This is thanks in part to the City’s energy efficiency campaigns and the reduced usage by residents.
Some of the key efforts the City has implemented in the past year include:
  • The City signed a R12,7 million grant agreement with the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to fund a feasibility study on the use of natural gas. This may provide a greater mix of energy sources to offset the use of fossil fuels in producing electricity.
  • The City’s inaugural R1 billion green bond for climate action projects.
  • The City opened its landfill gas flaring project that harnesses methane gas and converts it to energy.
  • The City joined the C40 Reinventing Cities Programme, a worldwide competition calling on the private sector and communities to devise carbon neutral development solutions and designs for under-utilised publicly owned sites. Sites include Ottery, Mouquet Farm, the Grand Parade and the Civic Centre.
  • To date the City has replaced 820 km of high intensity discharge (HID) lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) technology. This results in an energy saving of about 40% when compared with traditional street lights.
  • Council approved the City’s revised Municipal Spatial Development Framework (MSDF) which aims to curb urban sprawl by focusing on inward growth and transit-oriented development accompanied by higher densities and land-use diversification. This will bring the majority of Capetonians closer to jobs, thus spending less energy on transport.
Addressing apartheid spatial planning and creating integrated communities are some of the most important efforts the City is championing to help lower Cape Town’s carbon emissions. 
Transport is the biggest contributor by sector of carbon emissions in the city. About 31% of all emissions come from the transport sector, followed by 29% from the commercial sector, 24% from residential and 12% from industrial sectors. Government accounts for 3% of carbon emissions and agriculture for 1%.
The City is constrained from lowering its carbon emissions even further because of Eskom’s reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity. Electricity constitutes 64% of all carbon emissions because Eskom relies heavily on coal instead of renewable energy like solar and wind power to produce electricity. The City is in the process of taking Nersa and Eskom to court to fight for our right to buy cleaner energy directly from independent power producers.
Despite constraints, the City has implemented a small-scale embedded generation programme to allow residents and businesses to feed power generated from solar panels into the electricity grid. 
While it is encouraging to see the City reducing its carbon emissions, much still needs to be done to achieve a 37% reduction in carbon emissions by 2040 or a 13% reduction by 2022, as set out by the City’s Energy2040 goal.
Together with residents and the private sector, we must now push harder to reduce our carbon emissions and amplify our contributions to protect the planet for future generations.