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Helping African cities respond to climate change

Home Infrastructure Environmental – Green Industries Helping African cities respond to climate change

THE recent release of the Working Group I Sixth Assessment Report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed the risks and opportunities associated with climate change, particularly for Africa.

Thapelo Letete, Technical Director: Climate Change and Sustainability at engineering consulting firm Zutari, who said a key finding highlighted in the report is that the latest climate modelling studies for Africa reveal that the likely increase in temperature due to climate change is higher than for previous models.

“This is particularly relevant for inland cities such as Johannesburg and Nairobi, among others, which face an additional risk of increasing temperatures due to being inland and as a result of the urban heat island effect, increasing risk of precipitation and flooding and, in some cases, increasing drought risk,” said Letete.

The next major event on the world environmental agenda is the UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) which runs from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The COP26 summit brings together a range of global stakeholders to accelerate implementation of the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Paris Agreement has the ambitious aim of limiting the increase in global average temperatures to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, while pursuing efforts to keep the increase to below 1.5°C. However, the 2018 IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C showed that, at 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the impact on natural and human systems will already be severe, long-lasting and, in many cases, irreversible. Net global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should reach zero by 2050 if the 1.5°C increase is to be pursued.

This has motivated several cities like Johannesburg to set more ambitious climate change targets. Its Climate Action Plan (CAP), developed between 2018 and 2020, aims for net-zero emissions and a resilient city by 2050. In this work, the city has been supported by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group through its Climate Action Planning Programme and Zutari, led by Letete and supported by Dr. James Cullis, Expertise leader: Sustainability Consulting.

The company’s combination of urban planning, engineering and climate change expertise has also come together to support an alliance of organisations and independent specialists comprising the Future Cities South Africa (FCSA) initiative, in conjunction with PwC (UK and South Africa), Open Cities Lab, Palmer Development Group, Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading and the Isandla Institute, among others. The FCSA is the delivery partner for the South African component of the Global Future Cities Programme, managed by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The initiative aims to support Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town with the urgent challenges of sustainable development. This has resulted in the scoping and delivery of several projects, with Zutari overseeing the development of a Strategic Area Framework for Soweto (SSAF) under Monique Cranna, Technical Director: Urban Planning at Zutari, which is also integrating some of the recommendations from Johannesburg’s CAP.

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