An investigation into the urban energy-economy nexus

Dippenaar, Joshua Archibald (2018-12)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Energy is arguably the most important resource for economic growth since most vital city infrastructures require energy. The majority of the world’s population now live in cities, which is also where the vast majority of the world’s energy is consumed. The pressures and potentials to reconcile economic growth and the sustainable use of resources are thus greatest in cities. This study investigates the city-level relationship between energy consumption and economic growth. Therefore, to answer the research questions posed in the study, the Spearman Correlation Test and the Granger Causality Test were employed to search for correlations and causalities between energy consumption and economic growth. The study performed analyses on three cities, namely: Cape Town (South Africa), Wellington (New Zealand) and Barcelona (Spain). These three cities share similar economic profiles yet have vastly different energy consumption patterns. Decoupling is a central concept of this study; it was defined as a term to describe the efforts to break the link between economic growth and the depletion of resources and the degradation of environments. It was found that when cities showed signs of decoupling, the correlation between energy consumption and economic growth was lost. Through investigating these three cities’ energyeconomy nexus, it was found that Wellington showed the most impressive decoupling. Therefore, Wellington’s policy interventions were studied to find a cause of this decoupling. It was found that the city employed a carbon tax, a strong environmental-awareness campaign, and an increased investment in public transport while reducing investment in road infrastructure. This combination brought about a modal shift where citizens adopted energy-efficiency technologies and public transport. This study therefore recommends this combination as a model for decoupling. Finally, this study has shown the importance of inter-city learning, and argues that cities should be open about policy interventions in order to speed up the transition to a green economy. This study recommends a systems analysis of the urban energy-economy nexus in order to fully understand the dynamics between energy consumption and economic performance.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Energie is waarskynlik die belangrikste bron vir ekonomiese groei, aangesien die meeste belangrike stadinfrastruktuur energie benodig. Die meerderheid van die wêreld se bevolking leef nou in stede, en dit is ook waar die oorgrote meerderheid van die aarde se energie verbruik word. Die druk en potensiaal om ekonomiese groei en die volhoubare gebruik van bronne te versoen, is dus die grootste in stede. Hierdie studie ondersoek die stadsvlakverhouding tussen energieverbruik en ekonomiese groei. Om die navorsingsvrae wat in die studie gestel is, te beantwoord, was die Spearman Korrelasietoets en die Granger Oorsaaklikheidstoets gebruik om korrelasies en oorsake tussen energieverbruik en ekonomiese groei te soek. Die studie het drie stede ontleed, naamlik: Kaapstad (Suid-Afrika), Wellington (Nieu-Seeland) en Barcelona (Spanje). Hierdie drie stede het soortgelyke ekonomiese profiele, maar het baie verskillende energieverbruikspatrone. Ontkoppeling is 'n sentrale konsep van hierdie studie; dit is gedefinieer as 'n term om die pogings om die verband tussen ekonomiese groei en die uitputting van bronne en die agteruitgang van omgewings te verbreek, te beskryf. Daar is bevind dat wanneer stede tekens van ontkoppeling toon, die verband tussen energieverbruik en ekonomiese groei verlore geraak het. Deur die drie stede se energie-ekonomie-spilpunte te ondersoek, is gevind dat Wellington die indrukwekkendste ontkoppeling getoon het. Daarom is Wellington se beleidsintervensies bestudeer om 'n oorsaak van hierdie ontkoppeling te vind. Daar is gevind dat die stad 'n koolstofbelasting, 'n sterk omgewingsbewusmakingsveldtog, en 'n groter belegging in openbare vervoer gemaak is, terwyl beleggings in padinfrastruktuur verminder is. Hierdie kombinasie het gelei tot 'n modal shift waar burgers energie-effektiwiteitstegnologieë en openbare vervoer aangeneem het. Hierdie studie beveel dus hierdie kombinasie aan as 'n ontkoppelingsmodel. Ten slotte het hierdie studie die belangrikheid van inter-stadse leer getoon, en beweer dat stede oop moet wees vir beleidsintervensies om die oorgang na 'n groen ekonomie te bespoedig. Hierdie studie beveel aan 'n deeglike stelsel ontleding van die stedelike energie-ekonomie nexus ten einde die dinamika tussen energieverbruik en ekonomiese prestasie ten volle te verstaan.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104889
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