Help us shift Joburg to 100% renewable energy!

Open letter to the Ward Councillors in Johannesburg

Johannesburg, 4 April 2017

Dear City of Joburg Ward Councillors,

The South African Climate Action Network, together with the African Climate Reality Project are calling for the City of Joburg to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Why is it important for Joburg to shift to 100% renewable energy?

Our survival depends on us changing the way we approach the environment around us – and our city needs to catch up with the likes of Tshwane, Durban and Cape Town by committing to a roadmap that takes us away from fossil fuels towards 100% renewable energy.

The switch towards 100% renewable energy has practical and reachable advantages, such as:

  • The use of solar power can create up to 12 times the number of jobs when compared to coal per Megawatt (MW) of power.
  • Renewable energy generation uses substantially less water than fossil fuels – a factor that is pivotal in a water-scarce country like South Africa.
  • The resulting decrease in the cost of energy enhances energy equity and equality, making energy more accessible and affordable to people of all income levels.
  • Air or water become cleaner as we reduce pollution which has a direct impact on the health of the city residents.

What do we need to do as a City?

The first step on this journey that residents, organisations from public and private sectors and government need to travel on together is to sign a declaration of intent to shift to 100% renewable energy.

The second step is the need to develop a plan or strategy to shift the City forward. This strategy will require the City to conduct financial modelling to develop the most financially viable plans, followed by passing legislation and developing policies that support this shift to renewable energy.

What should be included in the strategy?

The strategy should focus on five key areas:
1. Renewable energy
2. Green transport
3. Energy efficiency
4. Just transition
5. Ensuring access to energy to all.

With regards to renewable energy, some ideas and programmes that have been carried out in other cities include providing a feed-in tariff to pay businesses and residents for the excess energy they generate; placing solar panels on all municipal buildings including schools and clinics (this is known as distributed solar energy); the City could choose to buy renewable energy from independent power producers and not from Eskom. One opportunity for the City is when Kelvin Power Station shuts down in 2018: the City could agree that they will buy energy from renewable sources only.

With regards to green transport, the City of Joburg has made some progress with regards to the Bus Rapid Transport System but these efforts need to increase. The City should phase out all internal combustion engines and shift to electric transport.

Energy efficiency is another area which can create extensive jobs. This does not just mean changing to LED lightbulbs but rather retrofitting all municipal buildings to be energy efficient and putting in legislation for new buildings to be energy efficient while working with all residents to encourage energy efficient homes.

These key areas will need a strong public participation process plus a department to focus on the just transition for the City of Joburg from a fossil-fuel based system to a low-carbon economy so that we can be sure to help facilitate this shift to renewable energy.

What can you do as a councillor?

  • Make comments to the IDP,
  • Start speaking to the residents that live in your wards so you can prepare them for these changes that must take place,

and finally,

  • Speak to our Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba, to make the city more sustainable as it creates jobs.

Yours sincerely,

Gillian Hamilton
Branch Manager
The African Climate Reality Project
011 656 9802