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The City is a signatory of the Durban Climate Change Adaptation Charter, which binds municipalities around the world to climate smart development.
ALONG with more than 100 cities of the world, Joburg has committed itself to fighting climate change.

Executive mayors James Nxumalo and Parks Tau at the signing of the charter (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive mayors of eThekwini and Joburg James Nxumalo and Parks Tau at the signing of the climate change charter (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Executive Mayor Parks Tau took part in the three-day Durban Local Government Convention, where the Durban Climate Change Adaptation Charter was adopted. The convention ended on 4 December.

The charter binds cities of the world to adopt measures of infrastructure development that are climate smart and environmentally sustainable; and to account for and shape the process of urban growth to ensure that urban and rural development provide opportunities for adaptive and sustainable development.

Speaking at the convention, the president of the International Council for Local Environment Initiatives, David Cudman, said: “Cities are at the cutting edge of climate change pressure, with rapidly expanding urban populations that are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events and food shortage.”

Over the three days, mayors talked about efforts their cities were making to improve quality of life of the poor. According to the mayor’s spokesperson, Nkhensani Makhobela, Joburg has committed itself to planting more trees, developing more parks and promoting the use of public transport, thereby reducing carbon gas emissions.

Already, the City has been playing its part through its Bus Rapid Transit, Rea Vaya. The bus system has been lauded internationally and is the single largest climate change initiative ever undertaken by Johannesburg. It helps to cut congestion on roads, air pollution and greenhouse gases.

According to the portfolio head of transport, Rehana Moosajee, Rea Vaya offers not only a convenient alternative form of public transport, it is also environmentally friendly, safe and affordable.

Greenhouse gas
It operates a fleet of low-sulphur diesel buses that emit less greenhouse gases. Before set up, the bus system was researched and tested to determine its potential effects on the environment. It is estimated that the system will save 1,6 million tons of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2020 if just 15 percent of private vehicle users who live near the city centre switch to it.

Another City project to fight climate change is its Greening Soweto, which started in September 2006 under Amos Masondo, the mayor at the time.

Through the project, 200 000 trees were planted in the township and green open spaces were developed. This beautified the once dusty region, and acts as a legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Tree number 200 000 was planted at the opening of the multi-facility Dhlamini Eco Park in Soweto in April 2010.

Although Greening Soweto has ended, City Parks, the municipal-owned entity responsible for managing parks, cemeteries and open spaces, is still planting trees and building parks across Joburg, especially in in the historically side-lined areas and poor communities such as Orange Farm, Diesploot and Alexandra.

The Durban Local Government Convention was part of the 17th annual Conference of the Parties (COP 17), taking place in Durban. This annual meeting of the United Nations group runs until 9 December.

The international conference is a United Nations event meant to find solutions to and agreement on fighting climate change. Discussions seek to advance the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 in December 2010.

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