Cape Town climate plan

Posted on March, 01 2012

Climate strategies in developing countries 

Climate strategies in developing countries

Cape Town is one of the few cities in developing countries which have developed a climate mitigation plan. It has targets for both greenhouse gases and renewables. The fastest growing cities are to be found in the south, which creates both a problem and an opportunity, since the infrastructure of these cities is yet to be built. Now more actors are investing to guide them towards a climate-minded development.

Cape Town was awarded the title National Earth Hour Capital in Earth Hour City Challenge 2014

Keywords: climate, developing countries, networks, carbon finance, urbanization

The urban population of Africa's and Asia's developing countries is expected to grow by 1.7 billion over the next 30 years. This rapid urbanization is a threat to the environment, but it is also an opportunity. It is in the smaller yet fast-growing cities of the south where green technology investments can achieve most carbon emission reductions, because these cities have not yet built up their infrastructure (see also Lubumbashi). The WWF highlights this in its 2010 report Reinventing the City - Three Prerequisites for Greening Urban Infrastructures. The report estimates that, over the next 30 years, between 20 and 30 trillion dollars could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from infrastructure usage by half, and pleads with developed countries for help with planning and financing. This sounds like an astronomical sum, but it barely represents 10 percent of the expected spending on the urban infrastructure over the period.

First in Africa with climate policy
Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the few cities of the south in the international climate networks of cities. It is one of 19 cities in the UNEP's Climate Neutral Network and one of the pioneering cities in the carbonn Cities Climate Registry. In 2006 Cape Town became the first African city to adopt an energy and climate strategy. In a detailed plan of action in 2009, the goal of a 10% reduction (from the 2009 level) in carbon dioxide emissions for the entire city was set to be achieved by 2014. Another goal was to equip 10% of all households and 10% of city-owned housing with solar water heaters by 2010 (see also Cape Town solar heaters). The plan includes investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, public transport, and investment in sustainable housing in slum areas.

Cities and Climate Change Initiative
While Cape Town was an early adopter, several projects have been launched to support this type of initiative in other cities in developing countries (see also Lubumbashi and Nairobi). In 2008, UN Habitat, the UN Human Settlements Programme, which promotes sustainable urban development and adequate shelter for all, launched the Cities and Climate Change Initiative (CCCI). CCCI’s aim is to support the development and implementation of innovative climate strategies for cities in developing countries. This applies both to strategies for coping with climate change and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Four cities are participating in the project: Esmeraldas in Ecuador, Kampala in Uganda, Maputo in Mozambique and Sorsogon in the Philippines.

More countries have signalled interest in participating, including Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, Mombasa in Kenya, Kigali in Rwanda, and Walvis Bay in Namibia. The goal of the project is also to create a partnership between these cities and the cities of the wealthier world that have key experience, technology, and resources, and also have something to gain from the collaboration, namely the reduction of carbon emissions.

Carbon finance programme
The Carbon Finance Capacity Building programme (CFCB) is another project, launched in 2009 by the World Bank and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, among others, in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative. This will help emerging mega-cities in developing countries exploit financial opportunities from emission allowances in order to finance reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. In the three-year pilot project, four cities have been selected: Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, Jakarta in Indonesia, Quezon City in the Philippines, and Sao Paolo in Brazil. The four cities will be helped with financing, knowledge, and technology to modernise their infrastructure and develop climate change strategies. Also Cape Town, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Surat, and Delhi have been named as participants. Areas prioritised are transport, buildings and energy systems.

WWF and Booz & Company, 2010, Reinventing the City: Three Prerequisites for Greening Urban Infrastructures,

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, Cities and Climate Change Initiative,

Carbon Finance Capacity Building Program,

The United Nations Environmental Program, Climate Neutral Network,

The carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR),

Alexandra Humme, "Cities on the Frontline for Climate Action", June 2011, The World Bank,

Key data are retrieved from the UN World Urbanization Prospects: The 2011 Revision,

Text by: Martin Jacobson

Aerial view of the Cape Town central business district
© Martin Harvey / WWF
Map Cape Town 2
National Earth Hour Capital 2014