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Identifying opportunities for low carbon emission zones in South Africa : a case study of Durban.

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There is increasing attention on emissions reduction strategies that also deliver developmental co-benefits (i.e. low carbon development), especially in developing cities, thus research on the links between emissions, spatial planning, and urban development are emerging. The majority of studies on emissions inventories lack integration with strategic spatial planning, which is critical for place-based mitigation strategies. In response to this gap, a bottom-up methodological framework for the spatial representation of emissions was developed, based on the consumption perspective, to identify high emission zones and assess their urban development goals. The framework was applied to Durban (eThekwini Municipality), which aims to become a low carbon city and is also representative of a developing city. The total emissions calculated for Durban in 2013, was 12 219 118 tCO₂e, of which the road transport sector contributed the most to total emissions (43%), followed by industry electricity consumption (30%) A high emissions zone was identified along the coast, from Durban south, through the central business district (CBD) and the north to Umhlanga. Specifically, the areas with the highest emissions activities are from energy-intensive manufacturing industries in south Durban, and road transport, specifically private passenger cars, in central and north Durban. Furthermore, the highest emitting area, Prospecton, (767 172 tCO₂e), emitted ~ 6.5 times more than the Durban ward average (118 632 tCO₂e). Furthermore, Prospecton is highlighted for further port, fuel, chemical and petrochemicals, transport equipment manufacturing, and logistics development. The lowest emissions were from the rural edges, where the neighbourhoods emitted ~11 times less than the Durban average, which are also the areas with the most developmental needs, therefore highlighting the spatial disparity in emissions contribution within the city. A three-pronged approach of specific mitigation measures are recommended to simultaneously reduce emissions and achieve development: (i) manufacturing industries in south Durban must invest in carbon offset projects in the rural periphery to ensure that the development of those areas are not associated with increasing emissions, (ii) the implementation of car-free roads in central and north Durban to reduce distances travelled by private cars and to also ensure the widespread use of the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network and other eco-mobility options, (iii) limit industrial expansion in south Durban and commercial and residential developments in north Durban which do not have a low carbon plan. Thus, the spatially-resolved emissions inventory generated emissions profiles which identified suitable mitigation strategies to assist with the transition to a low carbon city.


Master of Science in Environmental Science. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 2015.


Carbon dioxide mitigation--South Africa--Durban., Carbon dioxide--Environmental aspects--South Africa--Durban., Environmental protection--South Africa--Durban., Atmospheric carbon dioxide--Environmental aspects--South Africa--Durban., Air--Pollution--South Africa--Durban., Theses--Environmental science., Low carbon emission.