03-07-2017, Pretoria, South Africa
The project “Climate Change, Clean Energy and Urban Water” has entered its implementation phase, as was announced during an event at the Department of Environmental Affairs in Pretoria, South Africa last Friday. The 2.5-year project is funded by the EU, with UNIDO as Implementation Partner and REEEP as Execution Partner. The initiative promotes the market-based deployment of energy efficiency measures and clean energy technologies and services in municipal waterworks, commencing with pilot demonstration projects in South Africa.
Municipal water infrastructure, typically running 24 hours a day, is one of the largest consumers of electricity in cities. Electricity costs can account for up to 40 percent of total operating costs in municipal water and wastewater facilities. These facilities can be inefficient and represent tremendous potential for reducing costs, water losses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This initiative will invest in pilot projects in !Kheis Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, implementing cost-effective, clean energy solutions to maximise the energy efficiency and reduce the GHG emissions of their water infrastructure. It will link into existing capacity building initiatives, apply rigorous monitoring and evaluation to capture lessons learned and promote replication and scale-up of solutions in South Africa and the wider region.
Opening Friday morning’s event, Mr. Tlou Ramaru, Chief Director of Climate Change Adaptation at the Department of Environmental Affairs, appraised the project as “timely” and a “critical innovative project that has the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation in South Africa, while at the same time reducing energy bills for municipalities”.
Representing the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Dessislava Choumelova, Counsellor, Trade and Economics, stressed the need for a shift of focus from negotiations towards action. “Action on the ground is what is going to deliver on our commitments” she said. “Commitments are a good thing, but we also have to put our money where our mouth is. […] The launch of this project is a very good illustration on the ground of how we can reach our commitments under the Paris Agreement.” Mr. Levy Maduse of UNIDO agreed, saying that UNIDO aims to “not only talk about policy, but also implement it.” Ms. Olivia Coldrey, representing REEEP, emphasised the project’s potential to create a ripple effect, where focused work at small scale can have a strong demonstration effect that unlocks additional sources of climate finance for clean energy markets, helping them grow and become self-sustaining.
Representing the participating municipalities were Mr. Peter Neilson, Executive Director for Energy and Electricity, Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality and Mr. Josef Willemse, Municipal Manager of !Kheis Municipality. Mr. Neilson praised the project for having “taken the perspective at a national level and brought it right down to the local level.” Mr. Willemse expressed his enthusiasm at !Kheis becoming a frontrunner in renewable energy applications for municipal water infrastructure and being a representative for smaller sized municipalities. He also stressed that for those on the ground, climate change mitigation is not the only benefit this project will deliver: “The social impact of this project will be the improvement of living conditions for the people of !Kheis.”
maria.veldhuizen [at] reeep.org
The launch event took place in the context of EU Climate Diplomacy Week 2017: #ClimaDiplo. The EU Climate Diplomacy Week is an annual event that EU Delegations around the world have been hosting and coordinating together with the EU Member States for the last three years. The objective is to reach out, raise awareness and disseminate information on EU Climate policy and action. In 2017, Climate Diplomacy Week was held in the last two weeks of June in countries where the EU is diplomatically represented. The focus is on Paris Agreement implementation and the nexus energy & climate, notably for bigger emitters and G20 countries, such as South Africa. However, outreach is not limited to these topics – any environmental and climate-friendly topics and activities qualify, also topics related to energy efficiency; renewables; low carbon, circular, blue, and green economy and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).