DBSA’s plan to reduce Africa's carbon footprint through green transport

The world is already observing the catastrophic effects of climate change and global warming on the environment. Scientific research shows that ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, sea levels are rising, more intense heat waves, plant and animal ranges have shifted, and trees are flowering earlier than ever before. 

The threats to the environment also impact socio-economic development critical for improving the lives of all people. Agriculture and food production are affected due to the altered temperatures caused by climate change. Contributing factors such as carbon footprint need to be prioritised in key mitigation measures for climate change risks. 

What is a carbon footprint?

A carbon footprint refers to the number of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere due to the activities of organisations, communities or individuals. These gases include carbon dioxide, water vapour, ozone, methane and nitrous oxide. Africa’s CO2 emissions per capita vary from one country to another. In 2018, this article recorded that countries in the sub-Saharan region have low CO2 emissions per capita compared to other parts of the world.

However, the growing use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, lignite and natural gas in Africa continues to reinforce greenhouse gas emissions. This means there’s an urgent call to reduce the use of fossil fuels, with the end goal of reducing the carbon footprint. 

The solutions to climate change in Africa rely heavily on the socio-economic transition from resource-dependent fossil fuel economies, to equitable low carbon and green economies; starting with environmental solutions like green transport. 

What is green transport?

Green transport refers to green transportation solutions or sustainable transport systems that are eco-friendly and have a low impact on the environment. Examples of green transportation include green cars, green public transport, walking and cycling.

Making a transition to sustainable transport systems will significantly reduce emissions and positively impact the environment. But transitioning is a massive challenge, particularly for emerging nations where there are already limited resources available. This is where we, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), come in. 

DBSA’s role in green transport development

As one of the leading African development finance institutions (DFIs), it is our responsibility to ensure that the transition in the transport sector is seamless. We aim to achieve this by following a holistic approach to infrastructure development in Africa by addressing the entire infrastructure value chain and focusing on key long-term strategic interventions. 

Our work in this sector follows a full life cycle that involves; planning, project preparation, financing, and implementation support for green transport infrastructure. 

We engage with private and public sector investors on funding opportunities to develop transport infrastructures such as bridges, roads, bus stations, railways, terminals, airports, seaports, border ports and more. We prioritise the development of sustainable public transport networks to ensure safe, efficient and green transport systems for the sub-Saharan region. 

Our work acts as a support to the South African government, in its quest to meet the goals stipulated in the National Transport Master Plan 2050, the Public Transport Strategy and the Green Transport Strategy.  

Green transport strategy

The green transport strategy was established by The Department of Transport to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. The department’s research revealed that emissions from the transport sector in South Africa account for 10.8 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. With large amounts coming from the production, refining and transportation of fuels.  

The strategy, therefore, details mitigation measures to address this challenge and facilitate the development of green transport in South Africa. It’s also designed to help SA meet the requirements stipulated in the Paris Agreement, as follows;

  • Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.
  • Making financial support consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. 

With this strategy, South Africa plans to achieve sustainable development by implementing regulatory instruments for vehicle emissions. SA further intends to educate and stimulate awareness to accelerate behavioural change in relation to green transport infrastructure.  

Final Thoughts

Climate change and global warming pose unprecedented threats to our world as we know it. It is up to us all to find urgent solutions to help address this crisis. As DBSA, we aim to do our part by prioritising inclusive and sustainable infrastructure development. We also aim to reduce Africa’s carbon footprint through a green economy, starting with green transport, one sub-Saharan country at a time.