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City leaders ring climate change alarm

30 November -0001, Business Day

Johannesburg: Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo and 30 mayors of the world's biggest cities have called on Group of Eight (G-8) leaders meeting in Germany to encourage national governments to support city leaders in combating climate change.

Masondo attended the C40 Large Cities Summit on climate change in New York last week, where water and energy conservation, the reduction of carbon emissions and alternative energy sources were discussed.

Cities are responsible for 75% of the world's energy consumption and 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the mayors' statement to the G-8 summit, "The fight against climate change will therefore be won or lost in cities."

Former US president Bill Clinton's think-tank, the Clinton Climate Change Initiative, announceed a $5bn programme at the summit to assist 15 cities, including Johannesburg, London, Rome and New York, to upgrade old buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Buildings account for nearly 40% of global greenhouse emissions from cities.

The mayors asked that G-8 leaders commit to a long-term goal for stabilisation of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and that the plan take into account the finding by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that time is running out to address damage caused by emissions.

Masondo, speaking on water conservation in cities, said Johannesburg had saved more than 16,5-million kilolitres of water, worth R46m, through Operation Gcin'amanzi in Soweto.
Some cities in the world lose 30% or more of water pumped, through leakage, theft and lack of maintenance of systems.

Masondo said Operation Gcin'amanzi, launched in 2001, had reduced bulk purchases from Rand Water and created 11 500 jobs.

He said the city had also started looking at ways to reduce energy demand and planned to cut consumption by 25MWh over the next five years.

Measures to achieve this included fitting council buildings with energy- efficient lighting and the installation of solar heaters in new housing developments.

London mayor Ken Livingstone, who chaired the summit, said several programmes agreed to at the conference, as well as lessons learnt from other cities, would ensure all cities made a difference.

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