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South Africa's Second National Climate Change Report

 

Introduction and background / national context

 

Climate change is already a measurable reality posing significant social, economic and environmental risks and challenges globally. Like many other developing countries, South Africa is especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (Kreft, Eckstein and Melchior, 2017). As such South Africa has the task of balancing the acceleration of economic growth and transformation with the sustainable use of environmental resources and responding to climate change.

Water is the primary medium through which the impacts of climate change are being felt in South Africa according to the National Water Resource Strategy (Department of Water Affairs, 2013). Increases in climate variability and climatic extremes are impacting both water quality and availability through changes in rainfall patterns, with more-intense storms, floods and droughts; changes in soil moisture and runoff; and the effects of increasing evaporation and changing temperatures on aquatic systems. South Africa has been experiencing a serious drought since 2015, with associated crop losses, water restrictions, and impacts on food and water security.

Simultaneously curbing climate change and responding to the unavoidable impacts of historic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions both timeously and continuously, requires ‘substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which, together with adaptation, can limit climate change risks’ (IPCC, 2014:7 ). Climate change action presents a clear path towards the shared aim of a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future. South Africa has the task of balancing the acceleration of economic growth and transformation with the sustainable use of environmental resources and responding to climate change. The very policies and actions that must deal with climate change also offer the most effective, readily achievable set of responses to enable sustained economic growth and social upliftment.

South Africa’s National Climate Change Response White Paper (NCCRWP) (DEA, 2011) and the National Development Plan (NDP) (NPC 2011), present a vision for an effective response to climate change. The NCCRWP and NDP address the immediate and observed threats of climate change to the country’s society, economy and environment and provide the basis for tracking South Africa’s transition to a climate resilient society and lower carbon economy.

Urgent and appropriate climate action offers South Africa and other countries in the region, and globally, a clear pathway towards the shared aim of attaining a more prosperous, inclusive, equitable and secure future, in which national priorities of eradicating poverty and reducing inequality are addressed. Therefore, taking immediate action to curb emissions as close as possible to the 2°C compatible emissions pathways, while building climate resilience to the current and near-term impacts of climate change, is vital to avoid costly mitigation and adaptation actions in the future.

 

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Purpose of the report

 

South Africa is undertaking significant actions to respond to climate change risks and impacts. The Climate Change Annual Report reflects on the progress in undertaking these actions with the aim of recognising ongoing actions, quantifying their impact, catalysing new actions and indicating how these actions contribute to the national imperatives of reducing poverty and inequality, and achieving continued economic growth.

 

South Africa’s climate change response is directed primarily by the country’s climate change policy set out in the NCCRWP (DEA 2011). The NCCRWP together with the NDP addresses the immediate and observed threats of climate change to the country’s society, economy and environment and provide the basis for tracking South Africa’s transition to a climate resilient society and lower carbon economy.

The NCCRWP commits South Africa to monitoring, evaluating and reporting its progress in responding to climate change, in addition to coordinating an effective national response to the unavoidable impacts of climate change and reducing the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To this end the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) finalised the National Climate Change Response Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework in 2015, to inform the tracking of South Africa’s transition towards a climate resilient society and lower carbon economy as mandated by the NCCRWP.

The 1st Climate Change Annual Report (CCAR), published in 2016 (DEA 2016), provided a comprehensive overview of South Africa’s progress in catalysing action in response to climate change impacts and risks. This 2nd CCAR continues this tradition of documenting and building an evidence base to inform future responses to climate change.

 

Objectives and target audience

 

South Africa’s climate change response landscape is dynamic, evolving and expanding, the Climate Change Annual Report communicates the progress and lessons learnt in tracking South Africa’s transition towards a climate resilient society and a low carbon economy.

Thus the objectives of the climate change annual report are:

  • To update the public on South Africa’s climate change responses driven by a variety of role players across government, the private sector and civil society, in the spirit of building an inclusive society and economy.
  • To profile and showcase climate change action and to recognise those leading / driving South Africa’s climate change response.
  • To enhance and broaden the understanding of the impact, effectiveness and gaps in South Africa’s climate change actions, enhancing the capability of role players in all sectors of society to implement more effective and inclusive climate action.

 

 

Key messages 

 

The development and implementation of a framework for young people for policy input and decision-making on climate change could strengthen and improve youth participation and involvement on climate change related issues.

The framework should cover the following:

  • The promotion of youth participation at national, local and sectoral levels. Leading agencies on climate change must promote these interests in collaboration with other ministries and organisations that have experience in facilitating youth participation.
  • The development of youth-specific participation programmes that address cultural, language and other barriers. For example, ‘youth-friendly’ policy briefs in different languages on important issues.
  • The improvement of local capacity to integrate children and youth into local programmes, planning and decision-making forums through.
    • Capacity development to understand and critically evaluate national and international policy planning processes and decision making on climate change.
    • Facilitate an enabling environment on climate through:
      • The adoption of a more interdisciplinary approach to climate change education on all levels of formal education, to ensure inclusion of climate change issues in all fields. For example, introducing the topic of climate change to subjects such as business studies, design and the language subjects.
      • The adoption of a more comprehensive approach to climate change education on all levels of formal education. Climate change is a complex topic, and young people should have the opportunity to learn about as many aspects of climate change as possible.
      • Offering support and climate change resources to teachers and activists in the formal and informal education system to ensure that recipients are well-informed and equipped to face climate change challenges.
      • The development of channel s of communication and climate change education resources that are targeted specifically at children and youth. This should be developed and designed mostly by young people.

 

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South Africa's Second National Climate Change Report 

This 2016/17 report includes chapters on (i) quantifying and profiling the impact of ongoing or recently completed mitigation actions (ii) progress in the work on climate change flagship programmes (iii) lessons learn from the recent drought phenomenon (iv) progress in the development of the national adaptation strategy and desired adaptation outcomes (v) progress in establishing a credible national tracking system for key climate change actions in the country, etc.

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South Africa's first annual climate change report

South Africa's first annual Climate Change report 
 

The objective of this report is to communicate the progress and lessons learnt in tracking South Africa’s transition towards a climate resilient society and a lower carbon economy. As a knowledge product, this report aims to target people and institutions involved in technical, coordination and policy aspects of climate change, including those undertaking work relevant to these aspects of climate change. This annual report is seen as part of the broader programme to communicate regular reporting of climate change relevant information to the South African audience.

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