Megacities to talk climate change in Johannesburg


    The City of Johannesburg will host the C40 Climate Change Summit in February 2014.
    (Image: Media Club)

    • Christa Venter
    Project Assistant, C40 Climate Change Summit
    +27 82 492 2424

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    The city of Johannesburg will host the fifth biennial C40 Cities Mayors Summit in February 2014, the first such gathering on the African continent.

    The C40 is a network of 56 of the world’s megacities that are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to reduce climate risks locally and globally. Seven more cities are to be included in the network, and all 63 city mayors have been invited to the summit.

    The summit will run for three days, from 4 to 6 February, and delegates will consider urban solutions to global climate change “through individual efforts as well as international engagement and collaboration”.

    “The concept of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is built on the premise of cities fostering partnerships with one another, in order to achieve meaningful reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks,” said Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau at a business dialogue in Sandton on 2 December.

    “A principle of working together to create and build partnerships is crucial to the success of achieving the city’s strategic agenda, including matters relating to resource sustainability.”

    Tau will be the host of the summit, together with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is the C40 chair. City delegates, business people, environmentalists, activists and community representatives will attend, deliberating on the progress being made by cities around the world, and suggesting interventions that can be jointly undertaken to address environmental issues. The theme for the summit is “Towards resilient and liveable megacities: demonstrating action, impact and opportunity”.

    “Hosting the event is a clear recognition of the growing role that Johannesburg and the African continent plays in finding solutions to the most pressing issues facing our globe,” Tau said. Johannesburg is one of four C40 cities in Africa; the others are Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Cairo in Egypt, and Lagos in Nigeria. Climate change affects not only industrialised regions but also rural areas, where changes in weather patterns threaten crops and livestock.

    The summit will also mark the release of the Climate Action in Megacities 2.0 Report, a comprehensive three-year report written under the leadership of Bloomberg, the financial software, data and media company headquartered in New York City, and based on the actions of the participating megacities. The report would demonstrate the measurable action and progress that C40 cities had made individually and collectively, to reduce carbon emissions and climate risks, said Tau.

    “I am proud to mention that the City of Johannesburg features in the top 10 out of a total of 56 cities. The City was nominated as one of four finalists in the Adaptation and Resilience category at the inaugural C40 Siemens Leadership Awards recently held in London.” The awards were handed out on 4 September. They will be an annual event.

    Adaptation and mitigation

    The thinking behind the theme is to incorporate adaptation and mitigation. Africa’s ability to adapt to climate change is unsteady, increasing its vulnerability to future projected changes. “Even if emissions are stabilised relatively soon, climate change and its effects will last many years, and adaptation will be necessary. Climate change adaptation is especially important in developing cities since those cities are predicted to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change,” he said.

    Summit plenary sessions will focus on four areas: adaptable and resilient cities; building liveable cities; megacity climate leadership; and socio-economic development of emerging megacities. Johannesburg aims to demonstrate its approach to adaptation, and focus on its ability to undertake greenhouse gas measurements and reporting, an area with which many cities grapple.

    “It is heartening to know that almost 80% of South Africa’s top 100 companies disclose their emissions. This is an area that the city also wants to improve upon,” Tau acknowledged.

    Joburg’s climate change focus

    Joburg 2040, the city’s long term growth and development strategy, has a strong focus on climate change and depletion of natural resources. It has put various measures in place over the past few years in line with this focus. These include the Rea Vaya Rapid Bus Transit system; retrofitting municipal buildings with energy efficient lighting; tapping gases from the city’s five landfill sites; producing energy from its waste water plants; an intensive tree planting programme, in which 200 000 trees have been planted since 2006; a food garden programme to alleviate poverty; and, a solar geyser project through which 110 000 geysers will be rolled out over the next three years.

    Joburg is calling on businesses in the metro to present case studies demonstrating good practice in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation in five areas: renewable energy and energy efficiency; water management and conservation; waste minimisation; initiatives supporting the green economy; and green infrastructure and ecosystems. Projects should be evident in the city and surrounds.

    The application deadline is 13 December and submissions should be made to Christa Venter at, or 082 492 2424. A glossy publication of samples of the projects will be produced, and companies must submit their contributions by 10 January 2014.

    A business seminar will be held on 20 January 2014, where there will be opportunities for business to partner with the city to address reductions of greenhouse gas emissions jointly, and share responsibility for environmental sustainability and resilience.

    About 750 delegates are expected to attend the C40 summit the following month.