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2011-08-11: Johannesburg is taking the Climate Change Negotiations Seriously

FROM 28th November - 9th December 2011 more than 30 000 people from the global community will be looking to South Africa to successfully facilitate an outcome that will usher in a new agreement to replace the current Kyoto Protocol that will cease to exist beyond 2012.

The world is currently awash with meetings, workshops and symposia in preparation for the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) meeting, which will be hosted in Durban, South Africa between the 28th November - 9th December 2011.

COP 17 is expected to be as big as COP 15 hosted by Denmark in Copenhagen in 2009 which drew over 30 000 participants. The participants at COP 15 included governments, NGOs, business, academia and media. Similarly, South Africa expects international delegates from over 193 countries and at least over 25 000 delegates drawn largely from governments, NGOs, business and academia.

The geographical location of COP 17 presents a great opportunity to South African municipalities to participate where possible either by showcasing their efforts towards achieving South Africa's national goals or through side events that will feature thematic topics affecting local governments.  This strongly motivates for the need for the City of Johannesburg to plan for its role during the lead up to and at COP 17 later this year.

Therefore the local community of Johannesburg, together with SALGA, fully supports the opportunities presented by the Cancun Agreements. As per the Bonn Declaration on Mayor adopted in Bonn, Germany in June 2011, the City would like to encourage the national delegations to include local government representation where appropriate and proposes that sustainable and resilient urban development that prioritises climate change adaptation, poverty alleviation and improved human well-being should be defined as a thematic window in the design of the Green Climate Fund under the UNFCCC.

The City of Johannesburg also encourage all local governments to further engage in decentralized and city-to-city cooperation in order to advance adaptation actions and encourage our international networks and in particular ICLEI and UCLG to work closely together maximizing the engagement of local governments in the global environmental governance system.

The City of Johannesburg Initiatives
The City of Johannesburg (CoJ) is the economic hub of South Africa. It generates about 16% of South Africa's GDP, employs 12% of the national workforce and houses 74% of national head offices. About 20% of the population falls under extremely poor category and 40% without adequate housing. Given all of the above the CoJ is not exempt from challenges of deteriorating air quality mainly due to emissions from industry, mining operations, vehicles, domestic fuel burning, waste disposal and incineration. Emissions from vehicle are significantly rising mainly due to increasing traffic volumes and congestion during peak hours, as result contributing to the CoJ's air pollution problems.

Rising air pollution will negatively impact on human health through the increase in respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular problems. Exposure to high levels of air pollution may lead to mortality. This has a knock on effect on the economy through high rates of absenteeism at work due to illness.

Several initiatives are underway at the City of Johannesburg to combat all of the challenges mentioned above and these include the existence of the Environmental Management Division which is currently reviewing the Climate Change and Energy Efficiency strategy.  The City of Johannesburg participates in important global initiatives that include the include membership of the C40 Cities Network and participation in the Carbon Disclosure Project. The Cty's approach to tackling climate change is through mitigation and adaptation programmes.

Mitigation activities afford the opportunity to understand the city's carbon footprint and subsequently how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Current interventions include inter alia the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transit  as a carbon income generating system, Retrofitting of Solar Water Heaters in low income households, Energy  Efficient Street lighting, Energy Efficient Building Retrofit programme, Basa Nje Ngomagogo, Greening of the City,  Waste Minimisation and so on.

Equally important is that the City of Johannesburg also monitors air quality within its jurisdiction. Although reducing greenhouse gas emissions is essential in the fight against climate change, it is also imperative that the city adapt to the impacts of climate changes in the short, medium and long term. Adaptation on the other hand, affords the opportunity for the City to cope with the inevitable climate change and other extreme weather events that result in heat waves and flooding.

The previous recent devastating floods in Johannesburg's communities demonstrated city's vulnerability to climate risk and emphasized how important it is to protect the city from possible future changes to the city's climate. Current adaptation interventions include inter alia mapping out of flood prone areas, development of early warning systems of climatic disasters, awareness raising for vulnerable communities and so on.

The City of Johannesburg is a member of the Large Cities Leadership (C40) partner cities, a network of over 40 cities from around the world committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through:

The exchange of energy efficient and climate change international best practices
Access to significant environmental technology discounts through C40 aggregated purchasing
Technical Assistance through the Clinton Climate Initiative expert partners in the following sectors: waste, transport, energy efficiency building retrofits, clean energy, CER/VER carbon project development
Elimination of structural and financial hurdles to rapidly greening cities with a focus on building retrofits, LED traffic signals and street light retrofits, integrated waste management, Bus Rapid Transit and Non-Motorised Transportation development and expansion.
Similarly, the City recently completed a climate change risk and vulnerability assessment study and subsequently a climate change adaptation plan. Furthermore, the City has completed the climate change and energy strategy that identifies key areas for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Taken together, both the latter initiatives will enable the city to:

Reduce its contribution to climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions;
Improve demand side management of essential services (e.g. electricity, water & waste) and enhance resource sustainability;
Inform planning and investment in infrastructure and service delivery;
Ensure that service delivery is not compromised by the anticipated negative impacts of climate change; and
Position the City of Johannesburg as a preferred destination for investment.
What cannot be doubted – climate change is real and cannot be ignored. Take a stand as a Joburger and show your support for COP 17 climate change negotiations. Visit and follow the daily updates.


For further information contact:
Linda Phalatse
Deputy Director: Climate Change
Tel: (011) 587-4201
Cell: 083 544 0998

Issued on behalf of:
Environment Management Department
City of Johannesburg

Issued by:
Nkosinathi Nkabinde                                       
Communication Specialist                                     
City of Johannesburg Public Liaison Department                            
Tel: (011) 407-6477
Cell: 083 408 7787