Sustainability and the search for more eco-friendly ways to live and exist on this planet is a global trend. The depletion of our natural resources is forcing more and more countries to search for sustainable solutions to keep running and ensure there is a future for their children. So how is South Africa approaching sustainability and are we keeping up with what the world is doing?
Global sustainability trends
Life after coal: South Africa and the rest of the world are realising that global coal sources are under extreme pressure and the need to switch to renewable sources of electricity is imperative. Eskom largely relies on coal for energy creation with 13 coal-fired plants and the nuclear-powered Koeberg plant.
In a move towards sustainability, Eskom has established Klipheuwel Wind Farm, which has a capacity of 3MW and the Sere Wind Farm in the Western Cape, which has a capacity of 100MW. The National Development Plan is calling for the procurement of “at last 20 000MW of renewable electricity by 2030” and the decommissioning of 11 000MW of all the declining coal-fired power stations.
E-mobility: Increasing concerns about air pollution and climate change have resulted in many countries making the move to ban fossil fuel cares within the next 25 years and move towards electric and automated vehicles. In order to accommodate the greater reliance on public transport that this will bring, many countries are looking to change their infrastructure.
In South Africa, Cape Town’s commitment to creating a fully integrated public transports system by the year 2032 with MyCiTi routes is a step in the direction of sustainable travel. While in Gauteng, the 80-Kilometre commuter rail system which links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni and O.R Tambo International Airport is another initiative to reduce the number of cars on the road.
In countries like Germany, many families share one car and rather choose to the public transport and there is a growing international trend to car pool to work and back to reduce carbon emissions and save on the rising cost of petrol and diesel.
Action on plastic pollution: The general public is becoming increasingly aware of dangers of plastic waste and how this pollution is destroying our animals and the environment. The damaging effects of singly-use plastics is finally being recognised as one of our greatest environmental risks. In order to combat this, a growing ‘plastic-free’ consumer trend is driving product manufacturers to look at biodegradable ways to package their products. Countries that have announced calls to ban single-use plastics include the US, UK, Sweden, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxemburg and Norway. In South Africa many hotel chains and restaurants have banned the use of plastic straws in their establishments. The introduction of the plastic bag levy has also helped reduce plastic in South Africa. South Africa still has a long way to go with reducing plastics with figures from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) saying South Africans use between 30kg and 50kg of plastic per person every year.
Sustainable living tips
- Watch what goes into your shopping trolley and try and reduce plastic by buying items packed in boxes or glass bottles
- Turn your electric items off at their power points as even when switched off they still use energy
- Consider implementing a solar energy system at home to reduce your reliance on electricity for heating water
- Install water-saving shower heads and water saving devices on your taps
- Use LED lighting instead of incandescent lighting
- Reduce your reliance on your car and consider carpooling or use public transport
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