Infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape Province of South Africa : a system dynamics modelling approach

York, T. A. (2015-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated the infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape with particular focus on the transport sector. Within South African context, a green economy transition is recognised as one of the key pathways towards achieving an environmentally sustainable, resource efficient, low-carbon economy and just society. In response to the call of achieving a green economy transition, interdisciplinary, integrated approaches to the management and design of infrastructures across all sectors is required. This provided the backdrop in which the research took place and the reasons for this investigation being conducted. With the examination of various literature relating to transition theories and management practices involved in such a problem, an understanding of the complex systems involved in such a transition enabled an appropriate method of analysis to be developed for the research problem. Utilising a system dynamics modelling approach, the research effort aimed to improve understanding, and develop the associated capacities, of how technical, economic, political, social and environmental factors interact, particularly in the context of the uncertainties encountered during this transition. A framework from which the processes and methods involved in the system dynamics technique was identified and described, including the manner in which the model was built and the theoretical grounds on which it stands. From this it was possible to illustrate the important relationships existing between various components of the system. The subsequent implications of the decisions to be made by managerial bodies with regards to the study were disclosed in the form of recommendations to the various stakeholders in order to aid the decision making process. The use of System Dynamics Modelling for the investigation of the infrastructure implications of a green economy transition in the Western Cape provided a holistic manner in which to conceptualise and simulate the complexities of the problem. The ease of creation and its flexibility with regards to simulating dynamic behaviours made it a robust form of modelling. The key findings of the research indicated that through the investment into a better public transport system as well as shifting the movement of freight onto the rail network there would be long term positive effects environmentally, socially and economically. These included reduced truck and private vehicle numbers on the roads resulting in better road conditions, lower traffic densities, lower CO2 emissions and reduced diesel and petrol demand within the province. The combination of the two major intervention strategies of public transport and rail freight yielded a significant reduction in emissions from the transport sector, of up to 17.89% compared to the business as usual scenario. Through the aid of simulation, decision-making based on accurate representations of the future effects of strategies was made possible. It can be concluded that reaching a sustainable green economy in the Western Cape is possible and the implications of such a transition on transport infrastructure are manageable and achievable through strategic development.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie ondersoek die gevolge wat die oorgangsproses na 'n groen ekonomie sal inhou, met die klem spesifiek op die infrastruktuur van die Wes-Kaapse vervoersektor. So 'n groen oorgangsproses word beskou as een van die belangrikste maniere waarop Suid-Afrika 'n samelewing sal kweek wat ingestel is op omgewingsvolhoubaarheid, doeltreffende hulpbron gebruik, lae-koolstof ekonomiese aktiwiteite sowel as regverdigheid. Die oorgangsproses tot 'n groen ekonomie vereis 'n interdissiplinêre en geïntegreerde benadering tot die bestuur en ontwerp van infrastruktuur. Hierdie studie is uitgevoer met die oog om hierdie vereistes aan te spreek. 'n Ondersoek van akademiese literatuur rakende so 'n oorgangsproses en die bestuurspraktyke wat daarmee gepaard gaan, het gelei tot die begrip van die gekompliseerde stelsels in die oorgang tot 'n groen ekonomie. Dit het gelei tot die ontwikkeling van 'n toepaslike analiseringsmetode vir die probleme wat geassosieer word met die oorgang. Stelsel dinamika modellering het gelei tot 'n beter begrip van die interaksie tussen tegniese, ekonomiese, politieke en ander sosio-ekologiese faktore wat met 'n groen ekonomie verband hou. Hierdie proses mik spesifiek om die onsekerhede tydens die oorgang na 'n groen ekonomie aan te spreek. 'n Raamwerk wat die prosesse en metodes van stelsel dinamika modellering beskryf is ondersoek waarby die wyse waarop die model gebou is en die teoretiese werking daarvan, ingesluit word. Belangrikke verwantskappe tussen verskillende komponente en daaropvolgende implikasies kon uitgewys word. Aanbevelings met betrekking tot ingeligte besluite wat uiteindelik deur die bestuursliggame en belanghebbendes gemaak moet word, word in die studie bekendgemaak. Met behulp van die stelsel dinamika model kon die kompleksiteit van die implikasies van 'n oorgang na 'n groen ekonomie op die infrastruktuur in die Wes-Kaap uitgewys word. 'n Vermindering in die hoeveelheid swaarvoertuie sowel as privaat motors op paaie sal lei tot verbeterde padtoestande, laer verkeersdigtheid, verlaagde CO2 vrystelling en 'n verlaging in die brandstof aanvraag word hierby ingesluit. Dit is bewys dat die doelbewuste gebruik van publieke en spoor vervoer in plaas van privaat vervoer, uitlaatgasse met tot 17.89% kan verminder. Akkurate simulasies en modelle kan dus 'n groot effek hê op besluitneming rakende toekomstige strategie. Dus kan die gevolgtrekking gemaak word dat met behulp van 'n strategiese ontwikkelings plan, die nodige infrastruktuur en bestuur daarvan, 'n groen ekonomie in die Wes-Kaap bereikbaar is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/97849
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