By totalling all the passenger kilometres travelled in the central city we get an excellent snapshot of peoples regular ways of travelling. Graphic: Rowan Abrahams

Cape Town - Car pools would do more to reduce the city’s energy use than any other intervention, as private cars use 87 percent of the energy consumed by transport coming in and out of town.

According to the Low Carbon Central Strategy Report released on Tuesday by the Cape Town Partnership, Sustainable Energy Africa and the City of Cape Town, the city’s various consumers - including transport, the government, retail, accommodation and offices - currently use 7100 terajoules of energy each day. If the city opts for a “business-as-usual” approach to its carbon emissions, this daily energy consumption will rise to about 12 600 terajoules by 2030.

One terajoule will power an average family home for 30 years.

The report provides a carbon profile of Cape Town’s central economic zone and offers recommendations on ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Since cars consume a disproportionately large amount of energy compared with other vehicle types, any energy efficiency gains in private vehicle use has a large impact,” it noted.

“Thousands of empty vehicle seats are moving around each day in private vehicles. If more of these seats can be used to move people, overall emissions per head will decrease as fewer cars will be moving around. Road space will free up as vehicles are removed from the road, and companies will save money on the costs of providing parking bays and infrastructure.”

The city council has allocated R900 million to its integrated transport plan for public transport expansion.

But “own steam” transport - moving around without using an engine - would go a long way to reducing the central city’s carbon emissions.

Cape Town Partnership chief executive Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana said: “People are at the centre of a city and the choices that people make will shape the city of our future.”

With simple, practical changes to our habits, we can reduce our carbon output and secure our sustainability.”

In carbon terms, the city would have to plant 21 000 trees a year to offset its carbon footprint. The report noted that urban agriculture could play a critical role in getting people involved in environmental sustainability on a personal scale.

It could be used for food production, income generation, job creation, city greening and social cohesion. Also, by creating appealing pedestrian corridors and public spaces, more people would be encouraged to walk and cycle in the inner city.

The partnership set up a pop-up urban forest on Tuesday in Harrington Square to show people what the city could look like with more green spaces.

Cape Argus