EMG Climate 01Global warming is affecting South Africa’s weather patterns and predictions are that changes will become more pronounced over the next decades. The specific predictions are complex and couched in uncertainty, but there is general consensus that average temperatures will increase, particularly over the interior of the country. Changes in rainfall patterns are less certain, but it is likely that the western parts of the country will become drier and the central and eastern parts somewhat wetter. Shorter rainy seasons and an increase in severe weather events (droughts, floods, storms, tornados, etc.) are also likely to be part of the change.

The agricultural sector is obviously the most directly affected by climatic changes and it poses problems for rural economies, but, as we have seen with the current drought, the knock-on effects are felt in urban areas too, particularly with rising food prices.

National government is responsible for laws and policies to reduce carbon emissions.

But local authorities are responsible for limiting damage due to natural events

....by enforcing building codes; controlling settlement in unsuitable areas; maintaining roads, bridges, and other lines of communication; maintaining water supplies and waste removal; etc.

The African National Congress (ANC) acknowledges that local authorities have a central role to play in adapting to a changing climate. But they don’t say what this role is. Under the ANC’s rule, municipalities will work more closely with provincial and national government to develop their mitigation and adaptation measures. You decide whether this is a good or bad thing!

The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s manifesto promises a lot, and by way of example, showcases its state-of-the-art Disaster Risk Management Centre in the City of Cape Town, by implication suggesting that such centres will be rolled-out in any other municipalities it governs. On the other hand, the actual words “climate change” do not appear anywhere.

The Economic Freedom Front (EFF) promises that no pothole will last more than 48 hours. Unfortunately, the kinds of floods we can expect may well wash the entire road away, unless they have already met another promise to “…construct and maintain storm water systems to avoid all forms of floods and heavy rains which might destroy infrastructure.” However, there is no real evidence that their vision integrates the kind of disaster management that may be needed.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) insists each local government must have its own disaster management strategies in place, with rapid response systems to coordinate movement or evacuation when necessary.

But, adapting to climate change requires much more than ensuring flood-proof infrastructure and effective disaster relief systems. A truly resilient urban or rural community will be one where relationships and support structures within the community are good, and where relationships between citizens and authorities are open, honest and productive.

Some questions for your newly elected councillor:

  • How ready is the municipality for the challenges of climate change?
  • How do you intend to minimise damage caused by natural disasters and climate change?
  • What disaster relief strategies do you have in place
  • How do you envisage this community becoming resilient in the face of climate change?

Back to Introduction

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 et.al., EMG