The Academy of Science of South Africa has produced a report highlighting climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities for the City of Durban entitled ‘Towards a Low Carbon City: Focus on Durban’.
The report was commissioned by the eThekwini municipality and provides 12 strategic recommendations, as well as sector-specific recommendations for Durban to transition to a low-carbon city.
The eThekwini municipality recognises that urgent attention should be given to the industrial and transport sectors, as these are the major greenhouse-gas emitters in the city.
It was recommended that eThekwini municipality extend its focus on energy efficiency in municipal buildings to the broader built environment in the city. Energy efficiency in buildings is often hailed as the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the low-carbon transition process, as actions can be implemented more easily than in other sectors such as transport.
Transitioning to a low-carbon city in the face of high levels of unemployment and the need for economic development was addressed in the report by emphasising the need to shift to a green economy.
There was a need to integrate mitigation and adaptation activities across the municipality, because traditionally, mitigation and adaptation activities have developed separately in cities, frequently residing in different municipal departments.
A strong drive to ensure multilevel governance and the recognition of the role of visionary leaders, or local champions, was viewed as necessary for low-carbon development in the city. This would ensure that climate change policies and actions were developed and implemented effectively and efficiently, with the full support of the political leadership of the city and local citizens.
Land-use planning also plays a key role in low-carbon development. Key principles include combating urban sprawl, compacting city form, decentralising urban opportunities, promoting sustainable neighbourhood planning, and a shared vision of spatial development in the city amongst all stakeholders.
Other recommendations urged the City of Durban to promote low-carbon lifestyles and play a leadership role in reducing upstream carbon emissions. An understanding of the carbon footprint of the city from a consumption perspective was important.
“This marks another important step in Durban’s journey to becoming a climate smart city. A city in which a low-carbon, green economy provides opportunities for both climate change mitigation and adaptation and fosters a new form of urban development that ensures ecological integrity and human well being,” said eThekwini Environmental Planning and Climate Protection deputy head Debra Roberts.
The release of the report coincides with the city’s hosting of the seventeenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, later in 2011.