Joburg adds voice at climate talks

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Copenhagen - Johannesburg Mayor Amos Masondo on Wednesday joined local government leaders from 80 cities present at the opening session of the climate talks in calling on negotiators to seriously consider the role of cities in a future climate deal.

The climate summit for mayors opened in Copenhagen on Wednesday with figures like Masondo, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Boris Johnson of London and Toronto's David Miller adding their weight to the crucial discussions that aimed at finding lasting solutions to the imminent catastrophic climate change.

Urban areas are said to account for at least two-thirds of CO2 emissions and Johannesburg being South Africa's economic hub with the largest population in the country is also the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) responsible for climate change.

"We have come here to add our voices to ensure that we are part of the solution," Masondo said.

Masondo highlighted the need of community participation in curbing climate change saying it affected local people directly. "It is our view that this battle has to be won or lost at local level," he said.

He called on leaders at the summit to do everything possible to empower local governments so that they are able to better respond to the challenges of climate change.

The City of Johannesburg wants to plant more than 200 000 trees by June next year and Masondo said the city was on right track to meet that target including that of a massive reducing of GHG emission by at the beginning of 2020.

The message from mayors was that local governments can play a crucial role in reducing the emissions through the implementation of effective changes in transport and infrastructure.

Masondo cited the recently introduced Bus Rapid Transit system and Gautrain as among the projects that will ensure that the number of cars is reduced on South African roads as more people turned to public transport.