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Release date: 14 October 2014

There is widespread dissatisfaction amongst city residents regarding energy services and pollution. This is the finding of the people’s Green Cities Barometer which was commissioned by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa (SACBC) and conducted by Acentric Marketing Research (Pty) LTD.

The survey was conducted using Acentric’s online panel amongst South Africans living in key metro areas. Residents rated the cities on 46 different factors; grouped into seven emission reduction areas: energy, waste, water, sanitation, air quality, transport and environmental governance topics. The new survey is to be used to track public perceptions of the social and environmental performance of the metros.

SA’s cities score relatively well in a certain areas. The top five factors, which all obtained net positive scores included: ride and park schemes during sports and recreational events (36), the rapid bus system (15), mobilising citizens to use less electricity at peak times (14), ensuring 50% of garbage is recycled by 2050 (13), ensuring townships/informal settlements can access water (12).
Not all aspects of city life were seen as positive however. “Unfortunately the analysis showed that more residents were dissatisfied than satisfied with the performance of the cities on 34 of the 46 factors measured. Of particularly concern to respondents is our continued reliance on coal.” say Craig Kolb, MD of Acentric. 

The ten worst performing areas, all of which obtained negative scores included: obtaining at least 50% of electricity from renewable resources (-42), ensuring poor have access to energy efficient technology for heating if they don’t have access to electricity (-35), ensuring the poor have access to solar panel water heaters (-33), ensuring city street lights use energy derived from solar (-32), establishing bicycle for hire scheme (-32), management inspectors to stop pollution (-31), ensuring traffic lights are solar powered (-31), addressing mine related dust from mines and tailing dams (-30), addressing refuse dumping in townships/informal settlements (-27), establishing projects for harvesting rain water (-23).

“We appeal to the metropolitan municipalities to develop new energy and climate strategies that factor the survival issues of the urban poor, including the waste pickers and the women in the informal settlements who are in most cases at the receiving end of energy poverty. Dust pollution from mines should also receive urgent attention. ” says Bishop Gabuza.

Residents of the following cities were included in the survey: Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape; City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, Western Cape; City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng; City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng; Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng; eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal; Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Free State; Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, Eastern Cape.

Technical note: Over 300 South Africans were interviewed using an online panel. Weights were applied to improve representation in order to approximate the profile of those living in Metro areas in terms of gender, age, race and household income.