Ten major African cities sign onto C40 clean air declaration

Ahead of COP27 being held in Africa later this year, the mayors and governors of ten major African cities have announced an unprecedented, ambitious commitment to improve air quality with the signing of the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration.

Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Dakar, Ekurhuleni, Freetown, Johannesburg, Lagos, Nairobi and Tshwane will join a global cohort of 38 cities including Durban, which became the first African city to sign the declaration in 2019. By signing the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration, the mayors recognise that breathing clean air is a human right and commit to work toward safer air quality to meet WHO  Air Quality Guidelines

The announcement was made at an event organised by C40 during the 9th Africities Summit in Kisumu, Kenya. At the event, C40 launched the African Cities for Clean Air Programme to support African cities as they work to improve air quality and public health.

Air pollution has become the second largest cause of death on the African continent, due in part to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. Approximately 1.1 million deaths per year have been linked to air pollution across Africa, according to a Global Burden of Disease study.

Approximately 59 million people across the ten African cities stand to benefit from cleaner air and improved health through commitments that could prevent as many as 10,000 early deaths linked to air pollution exposure, as well as more than 300,000 hospitalisations, resulting in US$ 9.4 billion in annual savings from averted deaths and hospitalisations.

Air pollution and climate change are closely connected and should be considered together; both need swift, unprecedented and collaborative action to address the sources of pollution that are harmful to our health and warming our planet.

The C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration sets a framework for cities around the world to improve air quality. Within two years, signatories to the declaration will establish baseline levels and set ambitious reduction targets for air pollutants that meet or exceed national commitments. These targets will put the cities on a path towards meeting World Health Organisation Air Quality Guidelines for particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and sulphur dioxide.

By signing this declaration, C40 cities continue to take bold climate action despite the many challenges faced in recent times, with the global pandemic, economic disruption, climate-related natural disasters and in many cases strained financial resources.

C40’s new African Cities for Clean Air Programme will help cities to achieve these commitments through capacity building, regionally-focused peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, and collaboration centred on air quality best practices.

Sadiq Khan, Chair of C40 Cities and the Mayor of London, said: “With COP27 being held in Africa later this year, I am delighted to welcome ten new African signatories to the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration. As Chair, I am determined to do more to support cities in the global south, who are on the frontline facing the worst consequences of climate change. This is why I am focussing C40’s resources on helping cities around the world accelerate their efforts to tackle the climate emergency, reduce toxic air pollution and address inequalities. The world is at a crossroads, we must all play our part in helping cities around the world become greener, fairer and more prosperous for all.”

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, President of the C40 Board, and 108th Mayor of New York City, said: “Many of the world’s fastest growing cities are in Africa, and these ten mayors can help show cities everywhere how to protect public health, fight climate change, and expand economic opportunity all at the same time. Cities play a vital role in the fight against climate change. This new commitment is an important step to help build momentum and highlight Africa’s leadership in the lead-up to COP27 in Egypt later this year.”

The new signatories of the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration will take careful steps to improve air quality, from establishing baseline air pollution levels to setting new air quality targets and implementing policies and programmes that address the leading causes of air pollution emissions.  Specific commitments include:

  • Abidjan will expand air quality monitoring capabilities and aims to achieve a 50% reduction in air pollutant emissions by 2035. The city will consider traffic restrictions for certain types of vehicles.

Governor Robert Mambe of Abidjan, said: “Breathe healthy and be healthy. To give our citizens this opportunity, we have committed to the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration and aim to initiate bold actions to fight air pollution by strengthening our efforts on air quality monitoring and contributing to the development of low-carbon urban transportation and promoting soft mobility modes.”

  • Accra will introduce policies to reduce air pollution from the waste sector by 2026 and collaborate with the transport department to implement an e-mobility strategic policy focusing on high-impact actions to reduce transport emissions.

Mayor Elizabeth Sackey of Accra, said: ”We have committed to achieve clean air status and work towards meeting WHO guidelines and air quality standards. This commitment substantiates the principles within Accra’s CAP and the potential co-benefits related to air quality management, as well as the reduction of health impact on citizens.”

  • Addis Ababa will establish city-wide baseline air quality levels and aims to reduce major sources of air pollution by 2025 by implementing emissions standards for vehicles e.g., passenger vehicles, buses, and trucks.

Mayor Adanech Ableble, said:  “Addis Ababa City has committed to improve air quality and build a clean and healthy city. We are working to increase the coverage of air quality monitor data for better intervention and to reduce air pollution related health burdens on the city’s residents. Our air quality management plan will help us  to achieve our goal.”

  • Dakar plans to introduce an electric bus rapid transit (BRT) and Regional Express Trains (TER – Trains Express Regional) system, create 18km of new bike lanes, and close dump sites by 2024.

Barthelemy Toye Dias, Mayor of Dakar, said: “The air we breathe today determines our health and the sustainability of our city. Together let’s act with ambitious and high impact measures to ensure energy transition, reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality, which is a right for every citizen.”

  • Ekurhuleni  is in the process of introducing the Harambee Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System, which includes 286 km of dedicated roads within the city. This programme will be rolled out until the end of 2025. In addition, the city will rehabilitate 112 (1 per ward) illegal waste dumping sites and any abandoned waste by 2023.

Tania Campbell, Mayor of Ekurhuleni, said: “I am deeply concerned about the health of citizens of Ekurhuleni as the detrimental effects of poor air quality are experienced on a daily basis. With the support of C40 Cities, the city has made a pledge, with focused measures, that will ensure that the air in our city is improved. One of the key measures relates to the enforcement and monitoring of the conditions of air quality licensing by our dedicated team of Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI).”

  • Freetown will develop a mass transit cable car network which will reduce peak traffic volumes and congestion delays (queuing) by up to 30%, support residents to transition to gas- and electricity-powered clean and affordable cooking solutions, and create low emission zones (LEZs).

Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Mayor of Freetown, said: “We are definitely dedicated to improving and sustaining the management of critical air quality data. This commitment towards city-wide clean air will form a vital component in achieving our vision of making our municipality as the most livable and sustainable city.”

  • Johannesburg will expand household electrification by providing 3,000 sites with electricity connections, establish a diesel vehicle emissions testing programme, and ensure mines implement the Dust Management Programme by 2025.

Mpho Phalatse, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, said:  “Breathing clean air is a human right. As mayors of the African cities, we must not wait for others to come and act to protect our citizens from the devastating consequences of air pollution. We know that air pollution and the climate crisis go hand-in-hand. Both need immediate, unprecedented and collective action to remove the pollution that is harming our health and warming our planet.”

  • Lagos will reduce traffic congestion by expanding the bus rapid transit network, pilot a low-emission bus system, improve walking and cycling infrastructure, rehabilitate three illegal waste dumping sites and promote the installation of solar photovoltaic systems on buildings.

Babajide Olusola Sanwu-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, said: “The need to breathe clean air is more important than the licence to pollute it. Lagos has committed to improve air quality and I appeal to the responsibility of every citizen because together we can.”

  • Nairobi will introduce air quality regulations and an air quality act to set up ambitious reduction targets, increase installation of air quality sensors, develop an emissions inventory to establish baseline levels of air pollutants, report publicly on the status of air pollution, and increase pedestrian and cycling lanes by 100 kilometres to encourage non-motorized transport.

Anna Kananu Mwenda, Governor of Nairobi, said: “Nairobi City Administration’s commitment toward city-wide clean air will form a vital component in achieving our vision as the most livable, clean, and sustainable city. We are strengthening the air quality management system by developing an air quality action plan, policy and bill.”

  • Tshwane will work collaboratively to improve waste collection and waste recycling from informal settlements, expand electrification to ensure access for all homes (including 80% of existing informal settlements) by 2030, and establish a vehicle emissions testing programme.

Randal Williams, Executive Mayor of Tshwane, said: “The [city’s] commitment [to signing C40’s Clean Air Cities Declaration] also substantiates the principles set out in the city’s Air Quality Management Plan and Climate Action Plan and seeks to use potential co-benefits related to air quality management to help address the associated health impacts on citizens.”

  • Durban has already made progress on commitments, three years ago. The city has procured new reference monitors, reviewed and aligned its air quality by-laws, and began the development of a city-wide emissions inventory of air pollutants, aligned with the greenhouse gas inventory. Durban has carried out an equity assessment to inform the design of their low emission zone and plans to further develop the concept in the coming year.

Mxolisi Kaunda, Mayor of eThekwini, said: “eThekwini Municipality’s commitment towards clean air will form a vital component in achieving our vision as the most liveable and a sustainable city.”

Other C40 cities working to improve air quality in Africa include the following:

  • Cape Town plans to conduct a feasibility assessment to take over the management of the city’s passenger rail network. Having a rail network that is functional, reliable and affordable to commuters will allow for traffic congestion to be diverted back to the rail service.

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Mayor of Cape Town, said: ‘’The City has increasingly been stepping up our efforts to improve air quality as part of our response and ensure that all Cape Town residents have clean air to breathe.”

  • Dar es Salaam plans to develop bylaws to encourage renewable energy uptake in residential buildings, promote lower-emission electric cars, motorcycles and freight vehicles, and develop proper waste management systems. In addition, the city has recently deployed 14 air quality monitoring sensors to track the city’s air quality.
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880 Cities support the world’s first Global “Living Green” Awards

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The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) is proud to announce its partnership with 880 Cities in support of the AIPH World Green City Awards.

Enhancing public space for the wellbeing of all urban residents is a common vision shared by both AIPH and 880 Cities. There is arguably no better way to enhance the public realm than by bringing plants and nature back into the everyday lives of urban citizens through the implementation of nature-based solutions and urban greening initiatives.

Urban green spaces have the potential to significantly contribute to the building of healthy and cohesive urban communities and ensuring that our cities are resilient to the many shocks that we are increasingly projected to face.

It is increasingly recognised that plants and nature play a critical role in enhancing the quality of life of urban residents. This partnership aligns the visions of both AIPH and 880 Cities in order to enable transformative action and accelerate the transition to greener, healthier, and more liveable cities.

“At AIPH, our ethos is one where partnerships are central to the success of our various programme areas. 880 Cities brings a wealth of expertise to the network of supporting partners for the AIPH World Green City Awards. We are thrilled to be working together to demonstrate best practice in greening urban public spaces in the hope of inspiring accelerated action by cities in the coming decade,”- Mr. Tim Briercliffe, Secretary General, AIPH.

The AIPH World Green City Awards seek to recognise public initiatives relying on a greater use of plants and nature to create better city environments – helping to fulfil local aspirations for improved economic, social and environmental resilience. The awards celebrate innovation, achievement, and commitment to the globally recognised imperative to embrace nature-based solutions that harvest the power of plants and associated ecosystems services to help address the major challenges facing cities today – or tomorrow.

With support from 880 Cities, the AIPH World Green City Awards will be strengthened and enhanced in terms of their capacity to attract local government leaders and invite high-quality entries from leading cities who are committed to taking action to harness the benefits of “living green.”

“We’re excited to support and partner with AIPH to amplify and highlight the importance of urban nature, plant life, and greenspace in creating healthier and more livable communities for all.”- Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director, 880 Cities.

AIPH has, since 1948, united horticultural producers in an international community that thrives to this day. AIPH, as the world’s champion for the power of plants, supports the work of their grower associations globally and together they champion a prosperous industry, growing plants that enhance lives, advance societies, and sustain our planet for this generation and the next. AIPH strives to reignite and uphold an appreciation of plants that they believe is a basic human instinct.
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AIPH leads global thinking on the successful integration of nature into the built environment. The AIPH Green City programme promotes awareness of the urgent need for urban greening. Plants and nature form the foundation on which our increasingly urban lives depend. Through its Green City programme, AIPH advocates for the essential role of plants in creating vibrant urban areas and aim to develop an international standard for green cities as well as being a focal point for green city best practice and a source of expertise.

880 Cities is a non-profit organization that brings citizens together to enhance mobility and public space so that together they can create more vibrant, healthy, and equitable communities. 8 80 Cities if founded on the belief that if everything they do in our cities is great for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, then it will be great for all people.

Thus, 880 Cities’ vision is to create safe and happy cities that prioritise all people’s well-being. The goal of 880 Cities is to help create resilient communities where people are actively engaged and fairly represented in their city while acknowledging that in order to do this they need to involve as many perspectives as possible in the process of city-building.

880 Cities recognises that changing cities starts by harnessing exceptional new ideas and taking action. 880 Cities collaborates for impact and seeks to co-develop meaningful partnerships with diverse organizations looking to improve the quality of life in their community. “We are excited to see 880 Cities come on board as a supporting partner for the inaugural edition of the AIPH World Green City Awards. Harnessing the power of plants in the urban context is perfectly suitable for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds, and everyone around them in cities.”- Dr. Audrey Timm, Technical Advisor, AIPH.

As AIPH and 880 Cities come together to jointly support the ambitious actions of cities for nature, both organisations acknowledge the power of partnerships and the value of collaboration. By harnessing this power, they seek to inspire city authorities to transform urban areas for the benefit of plants, nature, humans, and ultimately the planet. This partnership lays the foundation for enhancing the potential of the AIPH World Green City Awards and paves the way for sustained collaboration in the future.

Does your city have a bold vision of being greener, healthier, and more liveable? Are you implementing urban nature-based solutions to enhance the public realm and build the resilience of your city in response to the growing urban challenges our urban areas face? Find out more about the AIPH World Green City Awards and how to enter here.

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REN21 report: Cities across Africa demonstrate progressive leadership to deploy renewables

The 2021 edition of REN21’s Renewables in Cities Global Status Report, shows that one billion people live in cities with a renewable energy target or policy. The number of cities that have enforced partial or complete bans on fossil fuels jumped fivefold in 2020.

With a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa, the report shows that despite many challenges, city governments across the region have taken important steps to advance the deployment of renewables.

Africa’s urban population increased more than 16-fold between 1950 and 2018, from 33 million to 548 million, and this rapid urban growth has been and remains a key driver of rising energy demand. Cities across sub-Saharan Africa increasingly recognise the opportunities around renewable energy use to improve energy access, reduce energy poverty as well as boosting the resilience and reliability of existing power systems.

City governments play a key role in shaping the energy landscape. At least 19 cities, including Cape Town (South Africa) and Kampala (Uganda) have renewable energy targets in place, and 34 cities have policies. Many cities in the region have joined global clean energy initiatives. For example, signatories to the Covenant of Mayors in sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA)[1] have voluntarily committed to implementing climate and energy actions in their communities.

The Climate Action Planning Africa Programme, led by C40 Cities, brings together eleven megacities in Sub-Saharan Africa that have pledged to become net-zero carbon by 2050.

Locally driven ambitions have led to positive outcomes

The report highlights the achievements of five very different and representative cities: Cape Town (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Kampala (Uganda), Tsévié (Togo) and Youndé IV (Cameroon). 

The City of Cape Town has been a pioneer in providing more affordable and secure energy access and in reducing the city’s carbon footprint.  In 2017, the City entered into a court challenge with the national government to enable it to purchase electricity from independent power producers (IPPs) and not be confined to procuring coal-fired power from Eskom. By 2019, Cape Town had the highest concentration of registered rooftop solar PV systems nationwide.

Dakar is home to 50% of Senegal’s urban population. Under the C40 Cities Leadership Programme, Dakar is committed to be net-zero carbon by 2050. The City’s transport plan articulates three ambitious infrastructure projects –train, bus and on-road transport – with a common goal of increasing the share of electrification and reducing fossil fuel dependence across these three transport modes while also reducing air pollution by 2030.

Kampala’s energy demand is dominated by the transport sector with inefficient transport modes driving up the city’s congestion. The SMART mobility program has enabled successful public-private partnerships, which in 2020 resulted in the use of more than 200 new and retrofitted electric motorcycles for public transport. The rise of electric mobility in Kampala is a strong example of how such relationships can be leveraged to advance the renewable energy agenda at a city level.

Tsévié has implemented a three-year municipal energy programme to boost local energy access and development. Under this flagship programme, the municipality aims to achieve its sustainability ambitions in four strategic areas: 1) sustainable biomass use, 2) deployment of distributed rooftop solar PV, 3) increased adoption of electric motorcycles and 4) a modal shift to public transport.

The city of Yaoundé IV rolled out a pilot project in 2019 to switch households from using LPG to biogas, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The success of the project has paved the way for similar programmes, notably ENERGIE PLUS, which seeks to build an industrial scale biogas plant to supply electricity to Yaoundé IV and its environs.   

Low-cost renewable energy can be a key lever to power economic growth

In addition to providing Sub-Saharan African cities with greater access to modern energy services, renewables also offer important co-benefits such as reducing air pollution, mitigating climate change, creating more liveable urban areas and enabling a better quality of life through increased access to basic services. However, municipal governments in the region face numerous barriers to the deployment of renewables. Key challenges include policy and regulation, underdeveloped grids and infrastructure, unstable off-taker arrangements, access to financial markets, data needs and technical capacity.

Although city authorities in sub-Saharan Africa may have limited influence over infrastructure and services, they can all take action to encourage local renewable energy deployment. Developing low-carbon pathways requires multiple collaborations across a broad range of stakeholders, including national policy makers. As the five case studies illustrate, progressive leadership has produced positive outcomes for renewable energy deployment.  

[1] The Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa(CoM SSA) was established in 2015 as part of the Global Covenant of Mayors, and by 2020 it had been signed by 175 local governments from more than 35 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

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