Draft climate strategy needs more work

The City of Cape Town is a member of C40 and aims to becarbon neutral by 2050.

The City’s draft climate-change strategy is contradicted by its densification policy, which should be reviewed.

This is the view of the Bergvliet/Meadowridge Residents’ Association, one of the civic groups that commented on the draft document out recently for public comment.

The association says the contribution of private (as opposed to public) green space to air quality and the city-wide environment is unappreciated in the drive for densification.

“Densification is a catalyst for climate change consequences,” said Mark Schafer, the association’s chairman.

“Densification leads to smaller subdivisions and bigger and more built footprints, which, in turn, lead to bigger and more hard-surfaced areas, which do not permit rainwater to return to the soil but is instead directed into the stormwater system. More, and integrated ‘green space’ also results in cleaner and cooler air.”

The organisation says the emphasis should be on appropriate vertical densification not horizontal expansion to the detriment of green space.

Verges in suburbs, other than business areas and carriageway crossings, should not be hard surfaced and all coverings should be required to allow water to permeate, Mr Schafer said.

Private gardens in suburbs should be encouraged and preserved and a percentage area of “green space” be required for all plots bigger than 350m² .

“Coverage limitations should be strictly enforced and should include hard-surfacing,” said Mr Schafer.

The organisation also suggested that the extent of artificial grass permitted in residential areas be restricted to 25m² .

“The more tar, concrete and roofing the city has, the more heat is generated and the greater will be the water run-off for the City to treat or manage.”

Carolynne Franklin, chairwoman of Kirstenhof and Environs Residents’ Association (KERA), said the draft strategy, while a step in the right direction, lacked focus on nature-based climate solutions.

Kera wanted to see an urgent swing towards urban afforestation to act as a local climate stabiliser and augment carbon sequestration, she said.

City departments should work together better to tackle environmental issues.

“The ongoing failure to cross-pollinate various departments within the City structures, such as facilitating baboon raiding versus failure to provide baboon-proof bins, and the oversight of such failures, needs to be addressed in the policy at this level.”

The draft document outlines the City’s ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to approach carbon neutrality by 2050.

Cape Town is a member of C40– a global leadership organisation promoting action against climate change. Cape Town, along with three other South African cities and others worldwide, has signed up to C40’s Deadline 2020 programme to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieve carbon neutrality and climate resilience by 2050.

The City says its climate-change strategy aims to improve energy, water security and health; create jobs; and reduce risks, while keeping the local economy competitive in a world quickly rejecting carbon-intensive goods and services.

Mayor Dan Plato said: “The City has done considerable work on making its operations more energy and waste efficient. We have developed guidance on how to enable a cleaner built environment and development sector, as well as laying the groundwork to diversify its energy mix away from the sole reliance on Eskom’s coalfired power stations.”

The aim was to buy energy from cleaner and cheaper independent power producers, he said.

“All our people need to have access to cleaner and more climate-smart options.”

The draft document notes that Cape Town has seen a sharp drop in its average annual rainfall, a change in the seasonality of rainfall, a rise in annual average temperature, more hot days and heat waves, stronger winds, a rise in sea level and more coastal erosion.

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