Expert Voices: Johannesburg Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe – “We are committed and determined to measure emissions”

Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe is the City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for the Environment and Infrastructure Services.

During the UN Climate Summit held in New York in September 2014, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau joined other mayors to launch the Compact of Mayors, the world’s largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change by pledging to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, tracking their progress and preparing for the impacts of climate change.

Since the launch, cities around the world are joining the Compact, and demonstrating their commitment to an ambitious global climate solution, particularly in the run up to COP 21 in Paris.

In March of this year, the City of Johannesburg hosted a regional workshop on emissions measurement and reporting for C40 cities in Africa. At this workshop it was clear that African cities are not only determined to reduce GHG emissions, they are interested in measuring, reporting and publicly disclosing emissions data. As members of C40, we have all committed to develop plans and take action to reduce GHG emissions in our cities. To manage the implementation of these plans, however, we need to better measure our emissions using a common standard.

For this reason Johannesburg started using the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories (GPC) towards the end of 2013. The first draft of the city’s emission inventory was completed just in time for the C40 Mayors Summit, which took place here in Johannesburg in February 2014.

The City of Johannesburg’s commitment to addressing climate change is increasingly receiving global recognition. In addition to hosting international climate change summits and workshops, Johannesburg, together with nine other cities (five of which are C40 members), was recently featured in the “In- Focus Reports” based on the city’s “highest quality” submission to the CDP’s reporting platform. The “In Focus Reports” are a remarkable demonstration of the strides taken by cities like Johannesburg in their quest to achieve sustainability and resilience.

The impacts of climate change are becoming evident and this demands that we act now. We want to take action, not only because we have a responsibility to future generations, but also because the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tells us that we are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The report confirms that, “despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies, annual greenhouse gas emissions grew on average by 1.0 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent (or 2.2%) per year from 2000 to 2010 compared to 0.4 gigatonne carbon dioxide equivalent (or 1.3%) per year from 1990 to 2000. Total emissions were the highest in human history from 2000 to 2010.”[1]

We understand the need to increase our mitigation action over time, in a way that is consistent with our overall development objectives. So while we insist on the right to development, we will do everything within our capability to achieve our development and poverty eradication objectives in the most sustainable manner.

[1] IPCC, 2014: Summary for Policymakers, In: Climate Change 2014, Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Edenhofer,O., R. Pichs-Madruga, Y. Sokona, E. Farahani, S. Kadner, K. Seyboth, A. Adler, I. Baum, S. Brunner, P. Eickemeier, B. Kriemann, J. Savolainen, S. Schl.mer, C. von Stechow, T. Zwickel and J.C. Minx (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.