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Responding to Climate Change in South Africa

Apr 19, 2022 12:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian
hand holding the earth, left half is dry and destroyed, and the right side is lush green

Figure 1 - Climate change. Source - Google

Globally, as the effects of climate change become more apparent, the reaction is gradually gaining traction. Coping with climate change requires imaginative and inventive answers at all levels of society and administration. In South Africa, the effort is being done in a variety of national and municipal government ministries, as well as at the community and individual levels, to address the effects and causes of climate change. So, let's take a look at how South Africa has responded to climate change.

Figure 2 - Climate change effects in South Africa. Source - Google

Southern Africa's climate ranges from desert to humid subtropical. It is impacted by its terrain and large-scale seasonal atmospheric phenomena, such as sea surface temperatures in the Indian and South Atlantic oceans (due to the Benguela current). Rainfall is mostly caused by the ITCZ's motion. Except for South Africa, the majority of the region's rainfall falls during the summer months (November–March). Because of the effect of ocean currents and prevailing winds, rainfall varies greatly over southern Africa. The tropics near the equator get the most rainfall, as does eastern Madagascar, which may receive up to 3,100 mm per year. Temperatures vary greatly. Summer temperatures in the Kalahari Desert of Namibia and Botswana approach 40°C during the day, as do the coastal areas of Mozambique. Lesotho, South African, and Zimbabwe highlands have the coldest winters due to a latitudinal gradient that causes temperatures to fall southwards. Rainfall varies greatly over the area, with a marked east-to-west gradient ranging from relatively dry conditions around Namibia's western coast to significantly greater rainfall along Mozambique's coast. The majority of southern Africa has two different rain seasons: a rainy season in the summer half of the year, about November to March, and a dry season in the winter, around April to October. Rainfall occurs all year in areas near the equator and eastern Madagascar. Winter rainfall occurs in South Africa's Cape area owing to the effect of mid-latitude cyclones. Tropical cyclones make landfall on the Mozambican and South African coasts on occasion, bringing heavy rain and floods to Mozambique, the northern regions of South Africa, western Madagascar, and Zimbabwe.

Read 'The Effect of Climate Change in South Africa':

Figure 1 - Visual Representation of Climate Change Source- Pexel

The Effect of Climate Change in South Africa

The cities and towns would be badly impacted if immediate adaptation measures are not implemented, leaving millions exposed and susceptible to climate change. Read More » 


The South African national climate change response policy white paper (NCCRPWP) was approved in 2011, and it outlines the government's vision for establishing a responsive intervention system to effectively mitigate the underlying forces of climate change and moderate its negative impacts on citizens. Building capacity and resilience in the country's agriculture sector, as well as establishing disaster risk reduction and management mechanisms to combat susceptibility to severe climate change risks, are among its goals. Through effective communication, the NCCRPWP promotes climate change literacy among South Africans. It aims to influence farmers' behavior in response to climate change and to guarantee that climate change information informs their decision-making processes. It emphasizes the need for climate change knowledge and response methods for South Africa's most vulnerable farmers. It also offers a framework for managing climate change risks, advocates for resilience and adaptation, and establishes the groundwork for education and awareness via outreach programs and human capacity building.

Read 'Solar Energy in Africa and Its Importance':

Figure 1 - Visual Representation of Solar Panels Source - Pexel

Solar Energy in Africa and Its Importance

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 Figure 3 - Responding to Climate change. Source - Google

South Africa plans to reduce GHG emissions to 398-510 MtCO2e by 2025 and 350-420 MtCO2e by 2030, both of which are much lower than the objectives announced in 2016. These increased objectives will also result in South Africa's emissions declining in absolute terms beginning in 2025, a decade sooner than previously envisaged. Its climate commitment is much more ambitious than what it proposed five years ago when the Paris Agreement was signed. According to Climate Action Tracker's criteria, South Africa's plan and modified 2030 emissions reduction goal bring the country's pledges closer to what is required internationally to prevent warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The new target will see GHG emissions in the range of 350-420 MtCO2e by 2030, aligning with recommendations from the Presidential Climate Commission and confirming the value of the new independent statutory body's technical work and public engagement when considering the draught updated NDC earlier this year.

The strategies and procedures stress the necessity of increasing South Africa's resilience to climate effects. Such adaptation measures are critical to assisting individuals in better coping with the country's increasingly severe droughts and other extreme weather occurrences in recent years. The degree to which adaptation measures will be required will be determined by what is accomplished internationally in terms of mitigation.

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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