Climate Change

Kokerboom54EMG's work in this field is primarily focussed on questions of adaptation.

  • How do vulnerable groups respond to potential climate change impacts?
  • How can NGOs in the development field reduce thir carbon-footprint
  • How can NGOs in the development sector integrate climate change "resilience" into the work they do? How can we make decision-makers more aware of the links between natural resource management and climate change
  • What policies best enable resilient and stable communities... at the same time as minimising global warming

NLDTF logoIn our last post we included, as part of our Lotto Environmental Justice Programme we carried articles from two of the interns on the project Abonga and Sizwe, and three of their friends Xolisa, Loyiso and Lonwabo, who are participating in the Climate Tracker: Path to Paris Programme. These short pieces focused on aspects of Climate Change that interest them and count towards helping them get to Paris for the COP21. The great news is that Sizwe is in Paris as this is being posed! Congratulatiuons Sizwe! Here is a picture of him at the airport with his friends saying Bon Voyage! 

Sizwe on his way to paris


To keep the Environmental Justice Flag flying in South Africa while Sizwe is away Abonga, Xolisa, Loyiso and Lonwabo have written more excellent articles which you can read below.



If wind and solar power can be build in homes many can benefit and  even more jobs can be created ,

Like in china 25 000mw of wind power have station generating far been built  , Europe has been planning to build 100 000mw of  offshore wind power  alone. Why are these countries building these renewable energies they have noticed that in to save their resources they can use renewable energeis.

Every country in Europe is using solar power to limit their electricity problems   ,in South Africa solar power is in full demand but yet the government is not responding with solutions that can  lead to less electricity power cuts.

Government needs to take notice of what is happening because our country is facing many challenges that can be limited by these renewables energies  . Nuclear power is not a solution because it has many waste product gases that can cause some explosions and problems in the future so let us do what is best for this country and this planet.  



Natural resources are the basic things for living things as know no livings things can survive without water in planet earth.

But in our days water will be scarce because of ways we use water such as washing cars irrigating plants in order to grow food.  Also the industries that cause climate change by producing lots of carbon dioxide will also make an imbalance that will stop us from getting clean water that come from rain. There will be acid rain in the future if they keep on producing lots of carbon dioxide.

Corporates companies are busy draining oils from underground. This is poisoning our underground water because after that process our land is degraded such that we are not able to grow plants and get pure underground water.

All these problems will affect poor people because they don’t have resources to protect themselves in order to have other options of getting water. Now in my county South Africa low income locations are having water management devices (WMD) installed. They have a certain allowance of water per day, if they exceed that then the devices cut off their lines of getting water. This is a new thing to us. We used to use water freely, without restricted access for a day.

Why does government not stop these corporate companies who have huge influence in polluting our water and climate? Instead of dealing with problems, they accept an innovation of reducing wastage of water.

But what I know is that everyone must have access to natural resources without paying any amount to fulfill them.

SUSTAIN THE PEOPLE - by Loyiso Hulushe

What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is way of ensuring a sustainable lifestyle by generating energy through natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat, which are renewable (naturally). Renewable energy can be used for technology ranging from solar power, wind power, hydroelectricity, biomass and biofuels for transportation.
Challenges and opportunities:
Solar is a relatively new technology in South Africa, and interests in this clean, free source of energy is steadily growing. There’s still much work that needs to be done in order to educate people about its benefits. A mindset change is needed but this will take time since South Africa has for many years enjoyed cheap and readily available coal power. Further guidance is needed on the initial outlay required in purchasing a solar power system. Without crystal clear figures, businesses will struggle to understand how solar makes financial sense.
Why it is not so abundant to people?
The government is only focusing and wasting money on nuclear power that will harm the country in the future. The government only want people to buy every time and not informing people about the benefits of this renewable energy- telling them how to sustain themselves by using renewable energies and sustainable livelihoods such as organic food gardening, solar power,  etc. The government is also focusing at fossil fuels such as oil, coal, etc. i.e. mining to develop the economy of the country.
The government should start to spread the word about renewable energy and inform people about its imperatives so that people can be enlightened about sustainable ways of living. Our planet at risk of collapsing any time due to the human way of living that is negligent and ignorant towards sustainability.
The demand for electricity is rising rapidly and energy companies are struggling to maintain has become a catastrophe. In developing countries such as South Africa where there is a high rate of population , poverty, crime and unemployment things can go from bad to worse. 
During the 1994 elections when the country became an independent and democratic country, people where promised to have access to electricity and yet since then this promise has never been fulfilled.  Some claim that the government failed to address people about self-reliance instead they would depend public sector in order to fulfill their needs.   People need to know that there is enough renewable energy (not fossil fuels) on earth to meet all the electric needs of all the population centers in the world for hundreds of years to come. The problem is that this energy is either in remote regions or is being used only in certain political fiefdoms. The idea of linking the world`s electrical power networks fueled by renewable energy resources such as the sun, wind and water should be practice and popularized.  
Renewable energy is essential to meeting basic human needs – food production, running water, heat, light and transport are all dependent on energy access. Poor access to energy has severe impacts on health, quality of life, education and economic productivity.
A research made by International Energy Agency show that, 1.3 billion people around the world lack access to electricity – 84% are in rural areas. Women and children in many of these areas walk several miles every day to obtain water and firewood — basic tools for survival. With access to electricity people can pump water from the ground, illuminate a health clinic and refrigerate food and medicine. Currently South Africa is experiencing load shedding and blackouts even in the big cities with its economy being threatened. 
The threat of local power initiatives is not so much that they can be done and are needed, but that they have the potential to alter the very pathway of future energy supply. This is perhaps what the national energy regulator and Eskom (South Africa`s energy company) both fear most. When the crisis hit in 2007, it was a case of demand exceeding supply – meaning we had enough power generating capacity to produce the maximum rated level of power. But the growth of the economy exceeded Eskom’s ability to supply the necessary power at the time.
Today the problem is different, as we have less demand on top of coal plants not being able to generate at full capacity. This is due to the fact that coal plants should have 90% generation availability in a year, but are operating at 70-75% availability today.
In other words, the same number of power plants are generating less than they did before. Renewable energies are needed especially in the poor or rural societies where people cannot afford to pay for electricity. There are also arguments for energy saving methods.  



EMG is currently running a programme funded by Lotto with 12 young activists engaged with environmental issues. Two of them, Abonga and Sizwe, and three of their friends Xolisa, Loyiso and Lonwabo, are participating in the Climate Tracker: Path to Paris Programme. These short pieces focus on aspects of Climate Change that interest them and count towards helping them get to Paris for the COP21. 

!!! Hot off the press !!!

Participatory Adaptation Handbook : A practitioner's guide for facilitating people centred adaptation to climate change

EMG is part of the consortium responsible for planning, writing and launching this fantastic resource for anyone involved in community-based adaptation work. Download the Participatory Adaptation Handbook here (3.1MB PDF) or contact us for a hard-copy (R100).

Accompanying the book is a set of facilitation cards Experiental Learning for Adaptation (945KB) - an amazing resource for anyone wanting to facilitate a community group.

Community-based adaptation to climate change focuses on people and their relationship to the resources around them.

EMG currently works with small-scale farmer organisations and artisinal fishers in exploring how they can build their community's resilience to the impacts of climate change. Together with each group, we try to gain a deeper understanding of the particular impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods, explore the questions that concern them, and develop a set of action-research activities they want to pursue. Apart from bringing benefits to the participating groups, the work aims to test and promote an Action Research methodology.

The impetus for some of this work came out of the testimonies made to the Pan-African Climate Change Hearings, hosted by EMG and Oxfam in Cape Town in October 2009. Click here to read the testimonies from South African participants.

West Coast Artisanal Fishers

A group of artisanal fishers in Doringbaai and Lambert's Bay have begun to collect data on their fish catches, the sea and weather conditions and their income.

The fishers are all members of Coastal Links and have enthusiastically embraced the process of building their own stock of knowledge about the near-shore marine eco-system and the potential climate change impacts. Their observations include catches of warm-water fish in their area, regular "swarms" of jelly-fish and storm-surges which threaten their slipway and boathouses. EMG facilitates regular workshops where the fisher's data is discussed and climate change's impact on their livelihoods are explored.

Cape South Coast Artisanal Fishers

The tiny fishing community of Buffeljagsbaai on the Cape south coast is highly dependant on marine and coastal resources and also extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise and storm surges. They are keen to learn more about their local coastal ecology and the potential impacts of climate change, so as to be able to build a more sustainable future.

Heiveld Co-operative and the Suid-bokkeveld

Small-scale rooibos tea farmers of the Suid-bokkeveld meet every 3 months to review past climatic conditions, their impacts and what the farmers were able to do to counter-act negative impacts. They also critically assess the Weather Bureau's forward predictions and share with each other what steps they plan to take to minimise the impact on their tea cultivation.

Ericaville Farmers Association

The Ericaville farmers cultiveat organic honeybush tea on their farm near Plettenberg Bay. In recent years they have been plagued by sequential droughts and floods which have devastated their yields. EMGs intervention includes regular workshops with the community, technical advise -- and recently, the installation of a temperature and rainfall recorder to allow for better forward planning.


EMG's work with these 4 community groups is done in partnership with Indigo Development & Change, Masifundise and Coastal Links and is made possible with funding from the DG Murray Trust, Comic Relief UK, and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF)

high res logo smallVisit the National Lotteries Board website to find out about other projects supported bythe NLDTF 



witsand meetingRepackaging and sharing information on climate change is an ongoing part of our work, and we are regularly called on to participate in, or co-facilitate workshops for rural and urban activists – or to assist other NGOs to look at both their own carbon-footprint and the vulnerability of the work that they do to changes in the climate.

We are in the process of developing training materials for this work.

cl ch hearing fanta testimonyBuilding solidarity amongst organisations concerned about climate change is an important part of our work. We are active members the Western Cape branch of Climate Justice Now! and regularly provide input on this and related issues to other CJN members.

Climate change is also a priority for members of the South African Water Caucus and EMG regularly provides support and input to Water Caucus meetings in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KZN.

EMG is also a founder member of the Adaptation Network

The United Nations UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is tasked to provide negotiators to the Framework Convention on Climate Change with the latest in climate science -- both current data and future predictions. The IPCC released their latest report in April this year.

While very few of us will ever read the full report (over 1000 pages of detail) the 33-page Summary for Policymakers makes grim enough reading.

Half of all carbon dioxide emitted over the last 260 years occurred just in the last 40 years and seems to be increasing exponentially. Global annual greenhouse emission in year 2000 was about 39 giga-tonne (carbon dioxide equivalent). By 2010 this had increased to about 49 giga-tonne. And its showing no sign of slowing.

At this rate, and given population and economic growth, the current atmospheric concentration of 430 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide equivalent will grow to 450 ppm by 2030 and between 750-1,300 ppm by 2100. At this rate the global mean surface temperature in 2100 will be 3.7 to 4.8 deg C above pre-industrial levels. Most scientists consider a 2 degree rise a disastrous. A 4-degree rise would be catastrophic.

.... unless we can significantly de-link our economies from oil, coal and gas.

And this is no small challenge. It implies that we have 35 years to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to 40-70% below what they were in 2010 level, and by 2100, they should have reached near zero.

As one of the planet's larger per-capita carbon emitters, South Africa cannot shirk our responsibility. But this is not made any easier by us being locked into another 40 years of coal-fired future with Medupi and Khusile, amongst the largest coal-fired power-stations in the world, just about to come on-stream. And certainly, in this context, talk of fracking as a "game-changer" seems rather hollow.

We struggle like everyone else to come to terms with what it really means to function in a low-carbon economy. We measure and review our individual and organisational footprint every 3 months. This has led to:

  • a significant reduction in car and air travel (we think before we drive or fly)
  • the steady replacement of obsolete desktop computers with energy-efficient laptops
  • upgrading our teleconferencing / skyping facility installation of a rain-water tank
  • a few staff members installing solar water heaters at home
  • increased use of public transport

... and there is still much, much more we can do!

We work with many other brilliant organisations, big and small, to keep up the pressure for a socially fair, progressive and eco-sensitive society and economy.

Climate Change Response Strategy: In mid-2011 Government drafted a Green Paper for comment, followed in late 2011 with the final draft White Paper approved by Cabinet. EMG offered written submissions to both documents.

Submission on White Paper: Climate Change Response Strategy

Submission on Green Paper: Climate Change Response Strategy


Carbon Tax: Treasury has mooted a carbon tax which would both change behaviour (encourage less or more efficient use of fossil fuels as well as adding income to the fiscus to be used for adaptory measures. Some elements of such a tax are already in place. Many argue that fossil fuels are already reaching unaffodable levels and a tax would be the last straw. Read EMG's 2011 Position on the Carbon Tax issues (120Kb).


Below are a few publications and links that indirectly relate to our work in the field of community-based climate change adaptation. You may find them interesting.


"Facing change with courage" is an article giving a good background to the challenges faced by women fishers in South Africa. First published in Yemaya -

"Fisheries: Facts and Trends South Africa" is published by WWF South Africa and is a comprehensive analysis of the state of South Africa's fisheries sector

"Climate Change and Fairtrade" outlines the position of the International Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) on climate change and how the fair trade system is responding to it.

"Supporting data collection by the poor" outlines some of the empowerment effects of community organisations collecting their own data and making their own analysis... rather than leaving this kind of work to academics and experts. The article was first published by IIED and reprinted in Alliance V17, No3 Sept 2013 

Climate Change - Resources

This easy-to-read, 4-page "beginners guide" to climate change. Climate Change and Global Warming (2011) by Heidee Swanby & Stephen Law, EMG, will tell you all you need to know.
... Ook in Afrikaans - 'n kort-en-kragtig, maklik om te lees stuk Klimaatverandering en Aardverwarming
NEW! NEW! isiXhosa...  Ukutshintsha kwemozulu kunye nesomiso

Want more? Download these Six Facts about climate change... then move on to A brief guide to Global Warming (2007) by Jessica Wilson & Stephen Law (published by Robinson, London). We have no more copies in stock, but it is available from Amazon and Goodreads in hard copy and e-book format.

EMG is part of the consortium responsible for planning, writing and launching this fantastic resource for anyone involved in community-based adaptation work. Participatory Adaptation Handbook : A practitioner's guide for facilitating people centred adaptation to climate change (3.1MB PDF) , and a set of facilitation cards Experiental Learning for Adaptation  (945KB). Alternatively contact us for a hard-copy (R100) while stocks last.

EMG has worked alongside small-scale rooibos farmers of the Suid-Bokkeveld for many years. Download this summary of our work and approach entitled Adaptation with a human face: Lessons learned from an ongoing adaptation and learning process (2012) by Noel Oettle, EMG (380KB) or contact us for a copy of the full report.

Into history? Download this 2-pager summary of the most important scientific and political milestones in the debate.... The Science and Politics of Climate Change - A summary timeline Stephen Law and Jessica Wilson 

These thoughs on how climate change may impact food security, were first presented to a Public Forum 2010 hosted by AIDC

This report was commissioned by Both ENDS, The Netherlands. The title says it all. The social and environmental consequences of coal mining in South Africa: A case study (2010) Victor Munnik, EMG