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Unsustainable Cape Town July 27, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Cape Town, Climate change, Environment, Global warming, Society, South Africa, Sustainable Living.

An edited version of this appeared in last Big Issue. Haven’t bought your own copy yet this month? Don’t tell me you haven’t come across anybody selling them!

The city of Cape Town relies heavily on non-renewable fossil fuels and controversial nuclear power for its transport and energy needs and is highly dependent on limited and seasonally variable water supplies, while literally generating mountains of waste every year.

The area of land that Cape Town requires to supply its resources and to absorb its wastes – its ecological footprint – is nearly equal to the size of the entire Western Cape. The city needs a forest the size of its whole municipal area just to absorb its annual carbon dioxide emissions.

At approximately 4.28 hectares, the average Capetonian’s individual ecological footprint is slightly bigger than the national average of just over 4 hectares, the largest in Africa. Average individual footprints range from more than 10 hectares in countries like the United Arab Emirates and the USA to less than 1 hectare for Namibia and Bangladesh.

Although Cape Town is not nearly as unsustainable as Hong Kong or Singapore, with average individual footprints of 7.1 and 12.4 hectares respectively, we still consume more than twice our “fair Earthshare” – the amount of ecologically productive land available on the planet shared equally between each of its inhabitants.


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