Cape Town – Ride-sharing company Uber on Thursday announced a limited promotion of UberGreen in Cape Town.
Following a Johannesburg pilot of the service, Uber expanded to Cape Town.
“UberGreen is a pilot project that was available to Johannesburg riders from 9 May to 3 June 2016 and has now ended. The pilot will be available to Cape Town riders from 13 June to 18 July 2016,” said Samantha Allenberg, Uber communications manager for Africa.
The so-called green service offers riders the opportunity to be transported in BMW i3 electric vehicles.
Uber said 15 000 people took up the offer in Johannesburg, travelling an aggregate 5 300km.
“UberGreen will charge the same fare as UberX in Cape Town,” Allenberg said.
BMW said it has sold 124 electric vehicles since the launch of the car in SA.
“In order for the momentum of electric mobility to increase, partnerships like the one with Uber are essential to expose more consumers to the viability of electric vehicles and alternative mobility options,” said Tim Abbott, managing director of BMW Group South Africa.
Allenberg warned Uber subscribers that demand for the green service may be high.
“As this is a pilot, there are a limited number of BMW i3 electric vehicles operating on the Uber platform. Demand will be high so we ask that riders remain patient. We are looking to grow the pilot over time.”
What’s the most important step governments can take to combat climate change?
Surprisingly, building codes in developing countries are #1 for Faith Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency.
Developing countries are where growth is concentrated and if all buildings going up aren’t extremely efficient, we’ll be locking in high greenhouse gas emissions for decades, she told The Guardian.
This can be done through regulations and incentives fairly easily but enforcement may take longer, he says, pointing to the often lax standards in many countries.
In the US, for example, a home built to 2012 codes uses about half the energy as one built in 1975, and there’s room for even more efficiency, says Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Not only would they consume less energy, buildings would be much safer from disasters and more comfortable for occupants as the world warms. Birol also calls for more incentives for electric vehicles and for carbon capture in order to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goals.
Luckily, green buildings are now the preferred choice around the world, with the number doubling every three years, but that doesn’t mean plenty of energy hogs aren’t being constructed.
China In Africa
China is investing heavily in Africa, a scary prospect, given its outsized development appetite.
China ranks #3 for LEED-certified buildings, but it only has about 2000 green buildings compared to 54,000 in the US.
Whether they are building green in Africa we don’t know, but we do know they are building entire cities including infrastructure like highways, light rail and electric grids.
A walled-off city next to Lagos, Nigeria, is called a “special economic zone,” designed specifically to attract investors. After Shenzhen, China became a “special economic zone” in the 1980s, it grew from 20,000 people to about 15 million today, becoming the “factory of the world,” reports Fast Company. Inside the walls will be the new city’s airport, electric grid, harbor and police force. Separation from Lagos is necessary, say developers, because the city is dangerous and chaotic.
Another “special economic zone” is outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where a Chinese shoe factory employs local workers.
50 economic zones are planned in Africa and six are built.
Will China be allowed turn Africa into a continent of megacities and epic sprawl?
Photographer Nick Brandt’s life-sized panels show where Africa’s wildlife used to roam, but no longer, because of development.
South Africa’s largest city, Johannesburg, announced that it will be organizing the world’s second-ever ‘EcoMobility World Festival’ in October 2015. The festival is a month-long car-free city district event which is supposed to help visualize an ecomobile future for residents and visitors in Johannesburg.
“We want to close off certain streets in Sandton, our second largest Central Business District to car traffic and instead use these lanes for public transport, walking, cycling and other forms of EcoMobility during the entire Transport Month in October”, the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Parks Tau said last year.
With Africa rated as one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, events like the Ecomobility festival could be what the continent – and the world at large – needs to reduce emissions that threaten the environment.
The first EcoMobility festival took place in 2013 in the South Korean city of Suwon. Residents of the neighbourhood collectively decided to get rid of every car for one month as a way to help the city reduce carbon emissions by helping citizens get an intuitive sense of what that future could look like. The masterminds of the event, The Urban Idea, explained how hard and stressful the planning period was. “When planning began, the neighbourhood was filled with cars, and people typically drove everywhere, even pulling up on sidewalks to park in front of shops while they ran errands. Most of the people could not envision how their neighbourhood would be car-free,” Konrad Otto-Zimmerman, creative director at The Urban Idea said. “They simply said it couldn’t work.”
However, two years of planning and countless town hall meetings later, 1,500 cars were moved out of the neighbourhood to parking lots elsewhere in the city. The city handed out 400 temporary bikes and electric scooters to neighbours, and set up a bike school to teach the many residents how to ride. Mail was delivered by electric vehicles and shuttle buses ran every 15 minutes to take people to their cars.
By the time the festival was over, residents of the city interacted better, exercised more regularly and were more actively involved in the community than they were before the festival. The town even requested that permanent changes be made to the use of cars in the city after the festival.
A similar experiment took place in Belgium when 22 streets were turned into “Living Streets” for 10 weeks when the city of Ghent asked a group of citizens to imagine a sustainable future for the city.
On the South Africa project, Otto-Zimmerman commented, “It takes an open-minded mayor who likes innovation and provocation, and has a greener vision of a city… and someone who has enough influence and supporters to go through the exercise, because it’s in principle controversial.”
The EcoMobility World Festival in Johannesburg will mobilize and raise local and international support for ecomobile alternatives to fossil-fuel transport. The festival will showcase the new Rea Vaya bus rapid transport scheme and public transport-, cycling- and walking-friendly infrastructure that the city is constructing in Sandton.
Pulling off an EcoMobility Festival is not a cheap venture. The Suwon Project cost over $10 million dollars to produce, although it was reported that a large portion of the budget went into repairing streets that were already in need of renovation.
The Mayor of Johannesburg notes, “We want to show residents and visitors that an ecomobile future is possible and that public transport, walking and cycling can be accessible, safe, attractive and cool!” Mayor Parks Tau also ensured that the city will provide alternative transport in and out of Sandton during this month. The city will host discussions, fun runs, cycle rides and other events to attract people to Sandton to experience the car-free environment.
The Urban Idea says they are planning to organize an EcoMobility World Festival every year in different city on another continent. How many countries or communities – African or worldwide – will be willing to sacrifice the comfort of their cars for a month of “healthy living”?