Friday, 09 December 2011

“Greening” COP17

DURBAN, 9 December 2011 - In an effort to “green” the COP17 UN Climate Change Conference, UNIDO engaged in a range of activities in and outside the city of Durban.

In partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNIDO demonstrated South Africa's strong commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting clean energy sources and utilization/applications, and by supporting targeted climate change awareness activities by decision-makers and the general public.

Solar water heaters for clinics and schools

Through one project, nineteen clinics in KwaZulu-Natal province are being retrofitted with solar water heaters, including in the iLembe district municipality which was visited on 8 December by President Jacob Zuma. In addition, solar water heaters and energy efficient lights were installed at two primary schools.

A number of households in the municipality also received Philips energy efficient clean cooking stoves together with solar powered torches, lanterns and energy efficient indoor lighting systems. 

Speaking in Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal province, President Jacob Zuma said: “One of South Africa's major challenges for poverty eradication particularly in the rural communities is access to electricity. People have to burn wood and coal to get some sort of energy which causes health-related problems such as pneumonia and asthma. Further economic consequences include productive time consumed by collecting wood, and the costs of achieving energy security can be expensive. Environmental consequences are equally concerning, with deforestation and local air pollution being the typical outcomes of reliance on natural and fossil fuels for energy. We are working on solutions already.”

The president praised the GEF, UNIDO and the UN Development Programme for their work in South Africa, saying that the projects complemented “the country's move towards improving the energy efficiency of existing applications and ensuring that a greater proportion of the energy mix is comprised of renewable sources, as a sustainable and climate-friendly approach to energy security for all”.

The president confirmed South Africa’s commitment to the greater replication of this pilot project throughout the country.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), some 1.6 billion people in the world today live without access to electricity.

South Africa Cleantech Competition

On 8 December, the winners of the 2011 South Africa Cleantech Competition were announced and awarded. Small and medium businesses offered solutions to some of the most  critical environmental and economic issues of our  day. The winning projects were proof that “green” businesses will offer new jobs and improve competitiveness.

The competition was funded by GEF through UNIDO and administered by South Africa‘s National Cleaner Production Centre, and attended by the Ministers of Energy, Trade and Industry, and Science, Technology, and Innovations, as well as the UNIDO Director-General and the CEO of GEF.

More information on the competition can be found here

Non-motorized transportation

To help lower carbon emissions in and around the COP17 event and to raise the awareness of the multi benefits of cycling, some 300 bicycles were provided as part of a project financed by the GEF and implemented by UNIDO. On 6 December, a symbolic cycling event and hand-over of the bikes to the eThekwini Municipality was organized.
The Mayor of eThekwini, Councillor James Nxumalo, received the bicycles, following a relay cycling event along the Durban beach in which UNIDO Director-General also took part.

The handover ceremony was attended by Transport Minister, Sbu Ndebele, Director-General Yumkella, German Ambassador, Horst Freitag, and the Chief Executive Officer of GEF, Monique Barbut.

Improving industrial energy efficiency

On the sidelines of COP17, UNIDO also hosted an international energy management and optimisation seminar. Speaking at the event, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, announced that at least 40 training workshops on energy management systems and energy systems optimisation had been completed countrywide by international experts. In addition, seven leading medium and large companies were now pioneering the implementation of energy management systems within their operations.

Davies said these were some of the milestones that have been achieved in the implementation of the Industrial Energy Efficiency (IEE) Project aimed at promoting industrial energy efficiency, energy management systems, energy standards development training and system optimisation for small and medium enterprises.

The IEE Project was introduced last year as a collaborative initiative between the South African Government, represented by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Energy, and international partners - the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

The project is coordinated by UNIDO and is hosted by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research.

"The key value proposition of the project is to contribute to sustainable transformation of the way energy is used in South Africa. The project further supports national energy security, promotes job creation and reduces carbon dioxide emissions,” said Minister Davies.

“It also facilitates the implementation of the new South African Energy Management Standard, ISO50001, and introduces for the first time a systems optimisation approach for South African industry."

The project also offers a number of opportunities to improve the competitiveness and strengthen the capacity of South African companies. It supports productivity increases, reduces production costs and takes advantage of new opportunities in the green economy.

"Effective energy management practices can contribute significantly to cost savings and competitiveness improvement. It is also a crucial climate change mitigation measure," said Davies.

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