Building retrofits and electrification are all possible. These are some of the “shovel-ready climate action solutions” that South Africa’s cities can rapidly implement to ameliorate current impacts and prepare for future impacts of climate change, according to new research published on Tuesday by C40.
However, the benefits are not limited to environmental. The organization claims that if implemented in the next decade, these actions could support more than one million jobs through mitigation and 700,000. These actions could also be used to create adaptation-related jobs.
In a webinar on Tuesday, members of C40 – a group of 97 cities around the world that represents one-twelfth of the world’s population and a quarter of the global economy – Panellists and others unpacked the new South Africa’s green jobs: report.
Panel members referred to the report as a solution to South Africa’s current economic crisis, which has seen high levels of unemployment and an ever-present threat of climate disruption. They stated that South Africa could create good jobs in its local communities and address climate change.
The key findings of the report note that capital investment of R570-billion per year for the next five years in urban centres would enable “ambitious climate action”. These actions could be taken in South Africa’s urban centres by 2030 if they are implemented this decade.
- Support mitigation actions in the transport, power, and buildings sectors to create more than 1.1million jobs.
- Support and create additional 700,000.0 jobs through adaptation actions, including solutions based on nature.
- Surpass the South Africa 2030 Climate Target.
The report notes that inaction is not without its costs, saying that “a delay of just five years could reduce by a third both the emissions reduction and the job creation potential by 2030”, which, put differently, means more than 385,000 fewer jobs by 2030 and the equivalent emissions of 48 million cars for a year.
The jobs created, the report explains, stems “both from the delivery of the intervention (direct jobs, e.g. installation) and from the supply chain”. These jobs include those related to building interventions and actions that reduce emissions. Of building interventions, the report notes that “building interventions, including electrification, can generate the greatest share of jobs by 2030”.
In particular, it continues, “actions to retrofit people’s homes and build new high-energy-efficient buildings can create and support more than 560,000 and 342,000 jobs, respectively, equivalent to 78% of jobs from the climate mitigation actions”.
In a statement, Johannesburg mayor and C40 vice-chair Mpho Phalatse said “the transition to a green economy must be just, inclusive and equitable”.
“Cities are at the forefront of the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Cities are also at the forefront in the fight against climate emergencies. These challenges must be tackled together. Green jobs can reduce poverty while helping to build healthy, sustainable, and resilient communities.
“We must ensure that green jobs go to those who need them the most – marginalised communities, women and the youth. Cities are already attracting investment, creating thousands of green jobs opportunities. With the support of national government and the private sector, we can go even further.”
The main focus of @CityofJoburgZA’s transition is retaining current jobs while simultaneously improving the distribution and diversity of employment, particularly by including more women and young workers in the economy.https://t.co/lTYUHZEmXs
— Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse (@mphophalatse1) March 29, 2022
Phalatse’s colleague and neighbour to the north, Tshwane Mayor Randall Williams, said in a statement: “This year, Tshwane launched a jobs lottery which relies on artificial intelligence to offer employment to 9,000 jobseekers. The initiative is part of the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme.
“In the future, this type of programme will aim to incorporate ‘green jobs’, which not only support the livelihoods of workers, but also helps to build a liveable, resilient and inclusive city.
“These opportunities will be created in integrated waste management, community safety and greening, among others, and will aim to upgrade informal settlements, townships, industrial areas and open spaces, including parks.
“Green jobs have the potential to transform lives and to transform our city,” said Williams.
Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said in a statement: “I am committed to growing a sustainable, equitable and inclusive economy.
“The concept of green jobs is not only about saving the environment. This concept goes hand in hand with supporting my city’s vision for social justice by benefiting disadvantaged communities, women and the youth. These communities are vulnerable to flooding, and they need support to become more resilient.
“It is critical therefore that green jobs are designed to offer secure employment, safe working conditions and fair remuneration with the end goal to support the local economy, improve infrastructure and service delivery and enhance the quality of life for all residents.”
“This year, the city of @eThekwiniM will host a youth employment expo in recognition of the urgent need to create jobs & invest in skills development for young people. As the Mayor of Durban, I’m committed to growing a sustainable, equitable & inclusive economy.” – Mxolisi Kaunda pic.twitter.com/94Z2d9I9Sg
— C40 Cities (@c40cities) March 29, 2022
Back in Gauteng, Mayor Tania Campbell of Ekurhuleni said: “I’m proud that the City of Ekurhuleni has been recognised as a leader in training. It is important that job creation initiatives are combined with skills training to increase beneficiaries’ chances of securing longer-term employment opportunities.
“Such training opportunities must also be targeted towards groups most in need – women, the youth and previously disadvantaged communities. This is one of the ways we can ensure that the transition into a green economy happens in a fair manner.
“Building a green economy not only creates opportunities for a better skilled and future-proof workforce – it helps to tackle climate change, improve the environment and support livelihoods,” said Campbell.
At the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said in his prepared statement: “In our drive for energy security, actioned by our recent IPP tender and other projects, the City of Cape Town will create local green jobs by putting green energy on the grid and providing reliable electricity supply for economic recovery.
“At the same time, we will continue to invest in innovative green and hybrid infrastructure, such as our new catchment management approaches, and provide much-needed jobs through river-clearing programmes and other support for the ecosystem services our city relies on.”
— C40 Cities (@c40cities) March 29, 2022
Hastings Chikoko, regional director for Africa at C40 and a panellist on the webinar, said: “The research not only shows the potential for green job creation in South Africa, but also symbolises the potential for other African countries to harness the power of cities to unlock green jobs and realise a just transition”. OBP/DM