Cape Town - Locating Power Generation

Assessment of the territories’ climate action


Association Climate Chance (Climate Chance)

Since 2015, the Climate Chance Association has been involved in the mobilization in the fight against climate change. It is the only international association that proposes to bring together on an equal footing all non-state actors recognized by the UN. In order to strengthen their action and to give credibility to the climate stabilization scenarios, the Climate Chance Association launched in 2018 a Global Observatory of Non-State Climate Action, which aims to explain the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions, by crossing national public policies, with sectoral dynamics, private actors’ strategies, local public policies and actions undertaken by local actors. In order to analyse the coherence of local public policies, Climat Chance proposes an assessment of « territorial mobilisations » through selected examples of cities and regions. Here, Cape Town.

Cape Town City Council adopted its new climate strategy in July 2017, Climate Chance Policy, one of the pillars of the general framework of its environmental policy «  The Environmental Strategy of the City of Cape Town  » adopted in 2017. This plan does not replace the emission reduction targets adopted by the council in 2015, which aim to reduce emissions by 13% by 2020 and 37% by 2040 from a run-of-the-river trajectory. The city is focusing primarily on reducing the carbon and energy intensity of its activities, despite its announced focus at COP23 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 (C40 2017).


In 2015 buildings consumed 31% of energy but accounted for 62% of GHG emissions, due to the carbon intensity of electricity produced more than 90% from coal. The Western Cape Province and the City of Cape Town are therefore working together to implement the Energy Security Game Changer programme, which aims to reduce the demand for electricity from the national grid by 10% by 2020. It is stimulating the installation of solar water heaters by accrediting the services of private suppliers (+46,000 installed in 2017), and by subsidising the renovation of the roofs of the most modest households. The feed-in tariff system introduced in 2014 has led to the approval of 170 solar energy projects in 2016, representing 6.5 MW of the 120 MW targeted by 2020 (Cape Town 2017). Finally, inspired by the Stockholm recovery system, Cape Town opened in 2017 the first biogas plant in Africa to treat 10% of its waste and thus supply its buses with energy, following the example of the Swedish capital (New Horizons Energy).

Cape Town, in collaboration with the province, opened in 2011 a manufacturing and training centre for green technologies «  Atlantis  » which is applying for the title of special economic zone with the national government, and in which 5 companies in renewable energy or construction have already invested 680 million rand (40 million euros) and created 312 jobs (Green Cape 2017).


Representing 37% of emissions but 68% of energy consumption in 2015, Cape Town’s transport sector has the highest pollution and traffic rates in the country, due to its poorly integrated network between the different modes and operators. As a result, the city is seeking to shift some of the 60% of the population using cars or taxis to its transport network. It is currently extending its « MyCiti  » bus rapid transit system in the south, which will be fully developed until 2032. This phase 2 is expected to benefit 1.4 million inhabitants by 2022. In 2018 a pilot project also introduced in Cape Town the country’s first 11 electric buses, not without difficulties due to the city’s geography. MyCiti recorded nearly 78,000 additional journeys in 2017 to reach 253,000, an increase of 44% (IOL 2018). In the long term, the city also intends to promote the densification of urban areas along train and bus lines, the use of bicycles on the 450 km of tracks that are still underused, and to further influence demand through, for example, car-sharing within companies.


Cape Town is particularly vulnerable to droughts, heat waves and floods. In 2018, significant restrictions have enabled it to halve its water consumption in the face of the risk of becoming the first major city to face a general water shortage. In addition to its water management programme, the city is seeking to locate places at risk (slums, coastlines) and improve its warning system.


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