In 2015, Cape Town had a carbon footprint of 5.5 tonnes per person and consumed 6% of national electricity. Furthermore, 23% of the population are unemployed. As such, the city now seeks to decrease exposure of its citizens to climate related threats and associated economic impacts, including energy poverty and insecurity. The plan aims to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, facilitating access to climate finance and achieving greater energy security, diversity and price stabilisation. By providing more standardised carbon and energy metrics, Cape Town also hopes to improve cooperation between departments, as well as promoting better, evidence-based, development decisions.
Cape Town reports that many of its targets on electricity consumption and carbon emissions have been exceeded. To date, the primary achievement of the project has been the reduced reliance on costly resource inputs in the form of electricity.
Creation of the Energy2040 Vision and Energy and Climate Action Plan provide Cape Town with an evidenced frame work on which it can structure current and future action. In 2015, the City’s Solar Water Heater Programme saw installation of 44,000 solar water heaters in the city, resulting in an energy saving of 10,208,000 kWh/month. The programme created 1,258 job years and contributed $58.1 million to the local economy. Furthermore, the programme estimates that solar water heating households save a collective $1.5 million per month.
Through actively providing clean, affordable alternatives to coal power, Cape Town is working to reduce electricity generation from coal, thus actively reducing associated local air quality burdens. The City has extensive programmes to put ceilings into subsidized housing (all new housing has insulated ceilings, existing housing is being retrofitted with ceilings –it is intended that 40,000 houses will be completed. Through measures such as this, the city’s climate action aims to improve the health and quality of life for citizens.
The Energy2040 and ECAP outline actions designed to achieve carbon emissions reduction of 13% by 2020 and 37% by 2040 (off the business as usual scenario for Cape Town). This translates to 82 tons of carbon per $67,000 of gross value added (GVA) by 2020 and 49 tons of carbon per $67,000 GVA by 2040. The initiatives also aim to reduce energy poverty, stimulate job creation, increase resource efficiency and reduced disproportionate climate risks facing the poor.