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Al Gore, Parks Tau share stage, views on climate change

Al Gore, Parks Tau share stage, views on climate change

Mar 13, 2014

13 March 2014 ~ The Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Johannesburg, South Africa this morning saw former US Vice President and Climate Reality Project Chairman Al Gore share the stage with the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Franklyn (Parks) Tau, who said Mr Gore’s participation in the leadership training was “invaluable”.

In a statement issued by Climate Reality, Mr Gore said: “We are proud to be able to engage with passionate climate leaders across the continent. This is a critical time for Africa. Though Africa produces a relatively small proportion of the carbon pollution driving global climate change, the continent bears a disproportionate share of its impacts. Drought, desertification and food shortages are becoming more widespread, and the continent faces daily reminders of the dire consequences of inaction. The good news is that if we act together now, we can solve the climate crisis, and Africa is already playing a key role in that effort.”

Mayor Tau, whose influence has impacted Johannesburg’s Spatial Development Framework, its Environmental Management Plan and the Integrated Transport Plan, said the recent ongoing rains in Gauteng are a reflection of changing climate patterns and their effects on infrastructure that was built during a time when the region’s rainfall was at far lower levels.

“Storm water drains and roads were not able to cope with these changes,” Mayor Tau said, adding that by 2018 the predicted temperature increase in Johannesburg will be a rise of 4 degrees Celsius. “We need everyone to be a part of the collective of organisations, activists and government to address some of the realities of climate change that we are living with, while mitigating the damage from further issues.”

Local government, said Mayor Tau, can make a significant contribution towards adapting to the effects of climate change. “The past five years has seen a massive 200 000 trees being planted in disadvantaged areas,” he said, adding that government is addressing the issue of redefining Johannesburg spatially to create a “far more efficient urban system”.

According to Mayor Tau, several issues are being addressed at the moment, with one of the most vital being rapid transit as the backbone of transport in Johannesburg, South Africa’s premier business hub. “We are working on recapitalising the Metro Bus service to complement the Rea Vaya service,” he said, “and put out to tender the supply of 150 dual-fuel Metro Buses.” Bids from local companies fell far short of the requirements and Mayor Tau said the tenders were opened to international bidders.

“As of yesterday, we have two bidders who meet the requirements for the provision of fuel-efficient buses and retro-fitting older Metro vehicles to use biogas. The next fleet of Metro buses will be energy efficient.”

Plans are underway to further investigations into using elephant grass – also called Napier grass or Ugandan grass, is a species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands – to create the biogas to run vehicles.

In closing, Mayor Tau said government needed to mobilise the people of Johannesburg to participate in finding solutions to climate change and its attendant issues. “We need to communicate a collective set of actions to ensure this.”

Mayor Tau’s speech was followed by a full-day training program led by Mr Gore.

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