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Joburg’s climate action plan to create more than 400 000 jobs – Gwamanda

Johannesburg executive mayor Kabelo Gwamanda

Johannesburg executive mayor Kabelo Gwamanda

25th March 2024

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Investment into climate mitigating strategies, as outlined in the City of Johannesburg’s Climate Action Plan (CAP), could create as many as 340 000 jobs, while investment into climate adaptation strategies could create an additional 77 000 jobs, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda has said.

He said these strategies were aimed at improving the lives of the most vulnerable groups, while also creating jobs and providing opportunities to tackle structural challenges.

Gwamanda was speaking at the South African Dialogue on Building City Resilience Through a Just and Equitable Transition, on March 25, in Johannesburg. The event was hosted by C40 Cities, the South African Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the City of Johannesburg.

C40 is a global network of mayors who have collectively committed to taking urgent action to tackle climate change.

The event gathered representatives from five C40 cities in South Africa, including Cape Town, eThekwini, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane. Representatives from non-C40 cities also attended.

Gwamanda noted that the various cities across South Africa were unequally positioned to deliver local just transition and climate mitigation programmes and policies that paid attention to reducing emissions while simultaneously ensuring that communities at greatest risk were protected.

“This is why Johannesburg’s CAP is underpinned by the just transition principle, guiding the city's climate and transition efforts to protect the most vulnerable and with the lowest adaptative capacity,” he explained.

The city’s CAP outlines how the municipality aims to work towards achieving its emissions reduction targets and reduce the vulnerability of its citizens to the impacts of climate change.

The aim of the plan is for Johannesburg to make a meaningful contribution towards national and global climate action targets under the Paris Agreement and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The hope is also that it will position the city to attract more international finance for a green economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Johannesburg’s emissions reduction targets, when compared with a 2016 baseline, aim to decrease carbon emissions by 25% by 2030, 75% by 2040 and 100% by 2050 to achieve net-zero emissions.

C40 Cities Africa regional director Dorah Modise pointed out positive steps taken by several cities in South Africa towards achieving a just transition.

She noted work done by the City of Johannesburg on training staff on the National Building Regulations and Renewable Energy Standards, as well as on how to implement them effectively across different stakeholder groupings.

She further commended the City of Ekurhuleni for establishing a stakeholder-based Just Transition Commission, which she said would ensure that actions taken by the city would be all-inclusive.

“The City of Cape Town has also done very well in terms of improving energy access for informal settlement residents, highlighting gaps and needs that needed to be addressed in that space,” Modise noted.

She added that work was being done with Ethekwini to ensure viable solutions could be found for reducing the risks associated with floods for vulnerable communities.

“Most of the South African cities are really showing leadership and the initiatives that happen will provide world-leading examples for other cities and other networks across the world,” Modise said.

She emphasised that most funders needed to see proof of concept, as well as leadership before they provided financing.

“They need to see the will to make a change for them to keep on investing,” Modise said.

She said the C40 was in the final stages of a study that was aimed at providing cities with better tools to tackle climate events that were affecting informal workers in South Africa.

“We are looking at reducing the impact of the pressure that's faced by urban spaces as more and more people converged into them, therefore straining the systems. With increasing urbanisation, it then means that urban spaces are under pressure and the system is already overloaded,” she explained.

Modise added that C40 was also looking into the impact of heatwaves on human health and wellbeing, the increased incidence of droughts and access to water, as well as issues related to flooding.

C40’s Just Transition project in South Africa, in collaboration with Salga, has also strategically interacted with the PCC for the past two years, promoting local government participation in a just transition at the grassroots level.

The mayors of Tswelopele and Cape Town were appointed as commissioners in 2021 as a result of the cooperation with the C40 programme and its network.

“This demonstrates the value of candid communication between mayors, regional stakeholders, and the national government, and it cements the acknowledgement of the role played by local municipalities in establishing a just transition in South Africa,” Modise said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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