Rea Vaya flies African flag at C40 climate awards

Rea Vaya flies African flag at C40 climate awardsThis year, Rea Vaya unveiled its first two buses that run on a combination of diesel and biogas

Rea Vaya, Joburg's innovative Bus Rapid Transit system, was one of just 31 projects from around the world, and the only African project, to be nominated for the 2014 C40 City Climate Leadership Awards.

Green materials are used for both Rea Vaya stations and busesGreen materials are used for both Rea Vaya stations and busesRea Vaya, the City of Johannesburg's innovative Bus Rapid Transit system, was one of the nominees for the 2014 C40 City Climate Leadership Awards.

The winners - in 10 categories - were announced on Monday, 22 September in New York, with Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau present at the ceremony along with C40 board president Michael Bloomberg and more than 250 decision-makers from cities around the world.

While Joburg did not come away with an award - Chinese city Shenzhen was the eventual winner in the urban transportation category - the nomination itself was an achievement: Rea Vaya was one of just 31 projects from around the world, and the only African project, to be nominated for the awards.

Rea Vaya is one of the key City projects that emphasises the use of green materials, for both its stations and its buses. Buses are also designed to limit CO₂ emissions. In its first phase, the buses met Euro IV emission standards, while the second fleet of buses were measured against Euro V standards. This year, Rea Vaya unveiled its first two buses that run on a combination of diesel and biogas.

The City is set to launch a dual-fuel fleet for the third phase in 2016 while it explores the idea of extensively using the biogas-diesel combination, which can be sourced locally and thus give an added boost to the government's job creation drive.

"This nomination is testimony that as a City we are on track to creating a resilient and sustainable environment for our citizens as expressed in our 2040 Growth and Development Strategy," Tau said ahead of his departure for New York.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a cluster of the world's largest cities, focuses on addressing climate change by finding ways to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks.

Rea Vaya's nomination followed the hosting, in Joburg, of the fifth biennial C40 Mayors' Summit in February. During the summit, mayors from across the world got the chance to use Rea Vaya.

"The Rea Vaya BRT system is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the City to improve our public transport system and reduce congestion on our public roads," Tau said.

"However, its most crucial element is its capacity to reduce carbon emissions. If 15% of car users within the Rea Vaya corridor switch to this system, an equivalent of about 380 000 tons of CO₂ emissions per annum can be achieved."

He estimates that once the BRT system is fully operational across the City, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6-million tons of CO₂ by 2030.

During his visit to the United States, Tau was also due to attend the C40 annual in-person steering committee meeting; attend a private meeting with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his current capacity as the UN Special Envoy on Cities and Climate Change; and meet Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes.

Tau was also scheduled to meet Shenzhen Mayor Qin Xu and Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua to discuss Metropolis, an international association of the leadership of cities and urban regions with more than a million residents each.