Cape Town’s Energy Water Waste Forum puts the spotlight on stakeholder collaboration in meeting energy challenges for a carbon neutral future

The latest EWW event took place on 27 February 2020 and was titled “Towards a Carbon Neutral Cape Town”. The objective of Forum was to understand what the City (local government) and other public and private sector players are doing to achieve carbon neutrality.

 The Energy Water Waste (EWW) Forum, a partnership for Cape Town’s commercial sector between the City of Cape Town, Western Cape Provincial Government, SAPOA and a number of other partners was established in 2009 as a way to enhance communications with the business sector on resource efficiency. It provides a platform for sharing city initiatives and policy, practical knowledge sharing as well as support for taking action. It also offers valuable networking opportunities for attendees from across various stakeholders, including government, the private business and academia.

The latest EWW event took place on 27 February 2020 and was titled “Towards a Carbon Neutral Cape Town”. The objective of Forum was to understand what the City (local government) and other public and private sector players are doing to achieve carbon neutrality. The Cities’ political commitment was evident with Councillor Phindile Maxiti, the Mayoral Committee (Mayco) member for the Energy and Climate Change welcoming all and Alderman Marian Niewoudt, Mayco member for the Spatial Planning and Environment Directorate, introducing the public to the updated Resource Efficiency for Development (RED) booklet. The booklet is a one-stop reference guide for all developers, built environment professionals and property owners to assist them in designing and building high performance, resource efficient buildings. The reference guide is available for download here.

Speakers from both provincial and local government spoke about the various policies, programmes, strategies and initiatives that are currently underway to tackle climate change. The City presented on their commitment to spatial transformation through densification and investment to support transit-oriented development. This is a prerequisite for more efficient transit and a more socially inclusive city, and it will also ensure the protection of natural areas. Water remains high on the agenda and the City intends to become a water resilient city by 2030 and to achieve a water-sensitive city status by 2030. The Cape Town Water Strategy presented is available for download here. The City also gave an update on the work underway under the C40 South Africa Buildings Programme and the C40 Climate Action Planning in Africa Programme. These programmes commit the City to transformative climate action by delivering carbon neutrality for all new buildings by 2030 and city-wide carbon neutrality by 2050 respectively. These commitments are an extension of the City’s Energy2040 Goal and accord with the City’s Climate Change Policy (2017) and Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and with the vision and objectives of the City’s Energy and Climate Change Directorate.

The City’s carbon neutral and resource efficiency goals are supported by the Western Cape Provincial Government (WCG) decarbonisation plan. This plan, presented by the Provincial Energy Director, aims to position the Western Cape as the leading green economic hub in Africa and will focus on encouraging energy efficiency, enabling small-scale embedded generation, procuring energy from independent power producers and implementing energy wheeling in municipalities across the province.

The private sector was then offered the floor to present on plans and innovations towards carbon neutrality. These presentations provided an overview of what the private sector is currently doing in terms of sustainability and low carbon development, highlight their ambitions, successes and challenges experienced to get either their buildings and/or business to carbon neutral. Manfred Braune, Director: Environmental Sustainability at the University of Cape Town (UCT) presented on the decarbonisation plan for UCT and highlighted the challenges of achieving carbon neutrality in a diverse property portfolio. He also highlighted opportunities that support the targets and implementation strategies. Yogesh Gooljar from PJCarew Consulting then presented on UCT’s D-school which is targeting a “World leadership” green building certification.

Ilse Swanepoel from Redefine properties detailed their plan on greening their property portfolio with a focus on energy, waste and water. She also highlighted potential technical implementation challenges of getting to net zero. Marloes Reinink from Solid Green gave an overview of a new office development, 78 Corlett Drive, located in Melrose North, Johannesburg. The project achieved a Net Zero Carbon Level 1 Certification and a World Leadership 6-Star Green Star Office v1.1 Design Certification. This innovative office space is achieving net zero carbon in operation. Andre Harms from Ecolution, presented on Darling Brew, a craft brewery which is Africa’s first carbon neutral brewery. Darling Brew undertook a greenhouse gas audit and the resulting carbon footprint is offset through responsible carbon capturing and reduction projects. In addition, Darling Brew implemented various initiatives to reduce water and energy consumption, as well as the amount of waste diverted to landfill. A common theme that was emphasized across these presentations is the need for implementing energy efficiency initiatives as a first step and then looking at the incorporation of renewable energy. All speakers noted the importance of monitoring and behavioural change.

Achieving carbon neutrality requires partnerships and will require governments, businesses, investors and citizens to work this. For instance, the City highlighted its strong partnerships with C40 around delivering ambitious climate action and is actively supporting and implementing climate change related international agreements and initiatives either as a direct signatory, or through supporting national climate commitments. One such initiative is the Net Zero Carbon Buildings declaration which commits the City to net zero carbon by 2030 for all new buildings and all municipal buildings; and by 2050 for all existing buildings. Louise Naude from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)noted that partnerships with a common goal of shifting to a low carbon economy, would be more effective with a higher chance of achieving success. She also shared on various initiatives that are occurring globally to tackle climate change. One such initiative is the Alliances for Climate Action initiative that businesses and cities can and have signed up to towards accelerated climate action. The coalition connects the private sector, cities, provinces, investors, and academia to work collaboratively with national government to collectively achieve a net carbon neutral economy by 2050.

Following this, a light finger lunch was served and this was also a networking opportunity for the participants. After lunch, the participants were invited to join a workshop on what Carbon Neutrality means for Businesses was facilitated by Adrian Stone, from the City of Cape Town’s Sustainable Energy Markets Department. The workshop focused on what carbon neutrality is, implications for businesses, and the transition to a carbon neutral economy.