Climate change and resilience: An analysis of some global and national measures




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JULY 2022


Climate change and resilience: An analysis of some global and national measures

by Nolubabalo Lulu Magam MA International Relations; D. Phil. International Relations

Abstract In essence, climate change affects poor countries that are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, Sub-Saharan Africa contributes the least to greenhouse gas emissions; it is however one of the parts of the world most prone to the dire consequences of the current climate catastrophe. The political language of the climate chaos is also not encouraging, as there has been a failure to reach a global agreement and commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Given that different parts of the world are affected in different ways or by different forms of climate disasters, it is pertinent for national, and subnational, entities to develop their own adaptation and resilience strategies. This study engages in a systemic analysis of policy documents to examine the current progress and forms of climate mitigation and resilience strategies, at both national and provincial levels. The review goes further to suggest that rather than a procrustean approach, adaptation and resilience strategies must be province specific, within the context of South Africa. This is due to the varying levels of the impact of climate change in different provinces.

Introduction


Climate change can no longer be ignored or reduced to just another day of bad weather. It is, by far, the most serious threat facing the world. Rising sea levels, global warming, widespread flooding, droughts, and the spread of tropical diseases, have devastated a lot of communities around the world, and South Africa is no exception.


Most scientists and researchers studying the potential impacts of climate change posit that the African continent has the potential to face more severe conditions than other regions in the world. Africa is estimated to be likely to experience increased climate variability due to its proximity to the equator. The effects of climate change on individual countries depend on their location and attributes, although all countries are exposed to it and have reason for common cause. But Africa’s ability to adapt to these effects is lower than that of the rest of the world.


Evidently, the recent heavy rainfall, flooding, and the resultant loss of life and property in KwaZulu-Natal is said to have sounded the alarm on climate change adaptation. According to Dhesigen Naidoo (2022), the floods have been “centred in the east coast metropolitan area of eThekwini and are arguably one of the most visible and deadly signs of climate change in the country to date”. Naidoo (2022) further elucidates that the floods are not an uncommon occurrence because “the Southern Hemisphere generally has had flooding hotspots very late in the rainy season. This April there have been flood events in Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines”.


However, the Durban “events are the expression of climate change in the form of more frequent, high-intensity extreme weather events”. Climate change adaptation in simple terms is the other side of the coin of mitigation. While the aim and goal of climate change mitigation is to prevent the environment, the biosphere, from drastically changing, the goal of adaptation is to provide people with the tools they need to live with the ever-changing environment, due to human activity. Joe McCarthy (2021) describes adaptation as essentially meaning:


​Any measure that protects a community or ecosystem from the effects of climate change, while also building long-term resilience to evolving environmental conditions. Adaptation is open-ended and takes many forms. It can be disruptive, such as when an entire community is relocated, or discreet, such as when a shoreline is reinforced. It covers everything from helping farmers grow crops with less rainfall to making sure buildings can withstand flooding events. It includes installing early-warning systems for natural disasters and improving the management of waterways.


Globally, the shift towards climate adaptation policies and measures is gaining sustained momentum. Given the devastating impacts of our ever-warming world, even the parlance has changed – from the problem of “Climate change” to “Climate crisis”. A change that critically underscores the threat to livelihoods because of rapid change in climate and the necessity of promulgating policies, developing plans, and emplacing strategies for systems to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis (Chersich & Wright, 2019).


For McCarthy (2021), in the context of the ever-present environmental catastrophe and its causal link with poverty and the displacement of people and the myriads of climate change challenges, adaptation to climate change is a matter of survival. As a global problem, global efforts and policy measures, despite falling short on an array of occasions, are commendable. They show an intention towards action, albeit not as swiftly as is necessary. According to McCarthy (2021), adaptation to climate change has become morally, economically, and environmentally obligatory.


The critical issue, however, is that despite the global, ergo the West’s, culpability for the current climate crisis, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and several low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) suffer from the most severe consequences or impacts of climate change. To put it in context, in a recent report by the Economist, it is stated that the climate crisis will lead to a shrinkage of the total area suitable for growing arabica coffee beans, and even tea. A situation that threatens the stability of economies, as the arabica plants account for about 60% of worldwide coffee production and over 98% of Kenya’s coffee (the countries fourth-largest export) production (Economist, 2022). The coffee industry is said to provide a lifeline in the countryside, as it directly or indirectly provides an income for an estimated six million people. That is more than a tenth of the population of 54 million.


In South Africa, the impacts of the climate crisis are rapidly increasing. Extreme weather events like the drought in the Western Cape[1], floods in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, and wildfires, are some of the overt and noticeable effects of the climate crisis. This is in addition to an increase in “vector and waterborne diseases … also gaining prominence. Global warming, which manifests as climate variability, has already been implicated in increased transmission of malaria, Rift Valley Fever, schistosomiasis, cholera and other diarrheal pathogens, and Avian influenza in South Africa” (Chersich & Wright, 2019:2).


Again, some studies have documented the deleterious effects of a warming temperature in South Africa to further include a threat to food security. The world’s population is projected to grow to about 9.7 billion, however, agricultural yields are said to likely decrease by 30%, which will effectually leave about five million of the world’s people hungry and in need of water (Economist, 2020). The same is true for South Africa, as it is reported that crop yields are likely to decline in several provinces, with a consequent loss of livestock (Mugambiwa & Tirivangasi, 2017).


It bears restating that given the current state of the economy and livelihoods, further negative impacts of climate change on the country’s economy will have profound implications for access to food in the country, which is largely contingent on affordability. The reality of the July 2021 riots shows how tenuous food access is, given the levels of poverty and inequality in the country. More so, ownership of arable land and the capacity to work on land is highly inequitable, reflecting the country’s history of apartheid dehumanisation (Masipa, 2017).


Indeed, the impacts of climate change are ubiquitous, and everyone is bound to feel the effects – some to a higher degree than others. Against this background, the critical question now becomes: Who is responsible for fixing climate change? Arguably, the success of any adaptation or prevention strategy does require international cooperation. For instance, there is a recognition in South Africa, and in SSA broadly, that international efforts need to double down on commitments to cut emissions (RSA, 2019). While this will go a long way, it may not be sufficient to protect South Africa – a water scarce, food insecure and unequal country – from the extent of future impacts of climate change.


Essentially, measures and policies should be comprehensive and context specific to allow each citizen in different parts of the country to adapt their way of life to an ever-changing climate. For instance, rainwater harvesting and storage systems for irrigation in water-stressed provinces, striving for food security through improved agricultural practices, and building storm and flood defence systems or early weather warning systems could all form part of a layered adaptation plan that can help people cope and adapt to disasters.


Given the above, this review provides a succinct elucidation of current progress and forms of climate mitigation and resilience strategies, at both national and provincial levels in South Africa. The review begins with an examination of global efforts and the different stakeholders, and based on critical extrapolation, the review goes further to suggest that rather than a procrustean approach, adaptation and resilience strategies must be province specific, within the context of South Africa (the National Climate Change Adaptation strategy is analysed). Globally, COP26 takes centre stage as the most comprehensive measure towards adaptation because, relative to climate change mitigation, adaptation has been overlooked in terms of its profile and financing.


There are signs that a shift in thinking is under way, however, partly as climate change is starting to impact wealthier nations as well as developing countries. At COP26, climate-vulnerable nations called for greater support to address adaptation needs and deal with loss and damage. This was one of the main points of contention during the conference. On adaptation specifically, developing countries managed to secure a paragraph in the Glasgow Climate Pact urging developed countries to collectively at least double (Aberg et al, 2021:7).


COP26: An overview of Global Climate Adaptation Measures and Policies


The climate emergency poses an extinctive threat to the world as we know it. From rising sea levels, widespread flooding, droughts, to an exponentially growing number of climate refugees, the impacts of the climate emergency are devastating. Sadly, Sub-Saharan Africa, which has a predominance of the world’s poor, is the more likely to suffer the deleterious effects of climate change; despite contributing the least in global emissions of greenhouse gases (IPCC, 2021).


According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the present has become evermore troubling – with an even bleaker outlook for the future – due to the impacts of climate change. In the IPCC report, a surmise is provided that reiterates what we already experience, which is that things are getting worse. The report made extrapolations by observing increases in extreme, high temperatures:


On land and in the seas, in torrential rain, in droughts and weather conducive to wildfires. The changes are affecting people, animals and plants, with widespread shifts in the timing of the seasons and with half of the species scientists have looked at moving towards higher latitudes and/or higher altitudes to cool down (though it is possible that there is some bias there: data may be gathered for species already thought to be on the move more than they are for others). With temperatures currently 1.1-1.3°C above pre-industrial levels, some natural systems are approaching, or surpassing, their capacity to adapt. Some coral reefs, rainforests, coastal wetlands and polar and mountainous ecosystems are butting up against “hard limits” (Economist, 2022).


It has become necessary for climate adaptation policies and measures in Africa, and in South Africa, to be more proactive and be guided by local and context specific challenges posed and, in some cases, exacerbated by the climate crises. This can prevent maladaptation, as in the past, businesses were content with buying carbon offset credits and continuing with their level of greenhouse gas emissions irresponsibly (Masipa, 2017). The issue is not an absence of policies; the supposition is that an array of existing programmes has an indirect impact on climate change adaptation and a further explicit framing of them could significantly contribute to climate change adaptation (Thinda, Ogundeji, Belle & Ojo, 2020).


It is suggested that in the early days of political action on climate change, adaptation was reduced or rather “was seen as, at best, a poor relation to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions—at worst as a distraction” (Economist, 2020). Because of such a reduction, there was a failure to agree on reduction in emissions in 2010 at the Copenhagen Summit. The world saw a steep rise in emissions post the financial crisis of 2008, and this put adaptation in its appropriate place as a topic of international concern. “The countries party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change took on a commitment to a global adaptation framework and set up a Green Climate Fund, with the goal of raising $100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing nations reduce their emissions and establish plans for adaptation” (ibid).


Current projections of the climate crisis presage more extreme and erratic weather pattens. In the face of such projections, the necessity for societies and communities to adapt their systems and practices to be more resilient to a hotter climate has become paramount. It is reported that:


If nothing is done to prepare for climate change, it could lower global agriculture yields by as little as 5% and as much as 30% by 2050—depending on a range of assumptions. Roughly 5bn people could suffer water shortages at least one month a year. Hundreds of millions of people may have to abandon their homes in coastal cities. Adaptation is not just a matter for poor countries. The damage which Hurricane Sandy wreaked on New York City in 2012 showed that extreme events could bring one of the world’s most important financial centres to its knees. Damages topped $19 billion. Such losses spurred a $19.5 billion urban-adaptation plan (Economist, 2020:4).


Adaptation from the above also requires the building of resilience amongst the most vulnerable groups in society, as they will be the ones most faced by the impacts of climate change. The recent United Nations Climate Conference COP26, like previous such gatherings, sought to find resolutions on the reduction of CO2 emissions to stop global temperatures from rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to limit and adapt to the harms of global warming. The Glasgow Climate Pact was one of the major outcomes of the COP26 Summit, however, in Quiggin et al’s (2021) view, the summit at Glasgow was a crucial opportunity for improved ambition on climate finance and a need for more attention to adaptation, as well as for finalising the rules governing the implementation of the Paris Agreement.


In sum, the major outcomes of the summit include:


  • Enhancing the ambition of national emission reduction targets (nationally determined contributions – NDCs) was a critical task for COP26. Regarding the participants in this, governments fell short; indeed, over 120 parties have tendered new or updated NDCs, but these new targets barely managed to narrow the gap to 1.5°C by 15–17 per cent. To fully implement such in their current form would result in a projected warming of 2.4°C by the end of the century. Meeting the goal of limiting warming to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels would require stringent efforts and additional commitments towards emission reductions before 2030 – this is in addition to extant NDC pledges.

  • Conversation and commitments to climate finance, adaptation, and loss and damage took centre stage in Glasgow, and were critical points of contention. Whilst the Glasgow Climate Pact enjoins developed countries to ‘fully’ deliver on the $100 billion annual climate finance pledge through to 2025, there is still some unclarity as to “when this sum will be raised in full – and if a total of $500 billion will be mobilised between 2020 and 2025 to make up for initial shortfalls. And while the Pact urges developed countries to double their adaptation finance by 2025, and establishes a dialogue on loss and damage finance, much more will need to be done to address the needs of climate-vulnerable developing countries” (Aberg et al, 2021:1).

  • A panoply of plurilateral deals happened at COP26 on key issues, from reducing emissions to the phasing out of various forms of fossil fuels and putting an end to deforestation. “These initiatives have the potential to accelerate decarbonisation but monitoring their implementation and holding governments and other institutions to account will be critical. Future COPs provide a platform for doing this, and governments should seek to incorporate the pledges made outside the formal remits of the UNFCCC process in their NDCs”.


Adaptation can be described as a big winner though. In the sense that at COP26, there was provision of adaptation finance by 2025 (with 2019 as the baseline). Several other pledges were also made during the conference. $356 million was raised for the Adaptation Fund, and $413 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund. “Parties also agreed to set up a two-year work programme to operationalise and implement the Paris Agreement’s ‘global goal on adaptation’, the aim of which is to drive collective action on adaptation. This is important, as it has been unclear how the global goal is to be implemented and progress against it assessed” (Aberg et al, 2021:7).


National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy: South Africa’s Approach


To restate, adaptation and mitigation are the two critical and vital responses to climate change. They are two sides of the same coin, in the sense that mitigation deals with the causes of climate change, whereas adaptation addresses the impacts of climate. Essentially thus, adaptation encompasses changes in how we interact with the environment and changes in practices and policies designed to decrease the vulnerability of our environment to climate change and interventions intended to reduce the vulnerability of people to climate change. There are several approaches to climate change adaptation. One of the most common is the nature-based approach or solutions.


Nature-based solutions – including the conservation of, or the restoration of, ecosystems – have a dual utility as mitigation, because they often remove emissions from the atmosphere while supporting adaptation goals. One example of a nature-based solution is evidenced in the replanting of mangroves along the coastlines of Java in Indonesia, which protects communities from flooding. Other examples include that “rehabilitating the Great Barrier Reef boosts the economy of Australia, and contributing to the Great Green Wall across Africa’s Sahel region improves food and water security. These efforts also create carbon sinks that, together with other initiatives, can get the world 37% of the way toward achieving the Paris climate agreement” (McCarthy, 2021).


In a country like South Africa, billions of rands are lost annually to climate change induced catastrophe. The 2022 flooding in the province of KwaZulu-Natal led to damages (to critical infrastructure and livelihoods) worth about R17 billion. Adaptation could be critical in saving provinces and, overall, the country from such expenditure. “The UN estimates that $1.8 trillion invested in adaptation programmes would save countries $7.1 trillion in climate costs. Adaptation measures also lead to economic growth — investing between $250 and $500 per hectare of land in climate-resilient farming practices could more than double certain crop yields” (McCarthy, 2021).


The successes or probability for success of adaptation strategies hinges on how much they are bespoke to the needs of specific populations, facing specific threats; this is the truth about adaptation. Climate adaptation must “be guided by local priorities. Some areas need help overcoming floods, while others need help coping with heat waves. Although climate change is universally felt, some countries and regions need to adapt more urgently than others. Sub-Saharan Africa is widely considered the most vulnerable region to climate shocks, whereas Scandinavian countries are relatively shielded from major disruptions” (ibid).


To put it in another way, what must be done to reduce emissions is similar around the world; “providing resilience through adaptation depends on policies shaped by local needs and capacities. Sub-Saharan communities at risk of more intense droughts that threaten their food supply do not need to deploy the same toolkit as ones on the Florida coastline where the land beneath their homes is eroding” (Economist, 2022:3).


South Africa’s national climate change governance is described as the product of over two decades of policy evolution. It has thus been significantly influenced by an elaborate array of stakeholders, executive policies, strategies, regulations, and institutions. The 2004 National Climate Change Response Strategy dovetailed with the National Climate Change Response White Paper (NCCRWP), gazetted, and approved in 2011, form the crux of the national climate policy. In 2012 climate change became a key element of the National Development Plan, the overarching plan for the country. Recently, the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy of 2019 now forms part of the colourful convergence of efforts to combat climate change, nationally. According to Averchenkova, Gannon & Curran (2019):


While there are a number of policies that operate across multiple sectors, there are also those that are targeted at avoiding emissions or supporting more specific sectors. The development of these sectoral level policies in South Africa is skewed by the greenhouse gas emissions profile of the country, with high-emissions sectors such as energy having more developed climate policy landscapes. These strategies are cross-cutting and gave a start to several specific policy mechanisms, including the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) and the cross-sectoral carbon tax. However, since 2010/11 climate change policy overall and mitigation policies in the energy sector, have been delayed (2).


The strategic vision of the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) (RSA, 2019) is to ensure that South Africa makes an effective transition to climate resilience; one which toes the line of a sustainable development path, guided by anticipation, adaptation and recovery from a changing climate and environment to achieve the country’s development aspirations (Mthembu, 2021). The following form the core strategic focus of the NCCAS: a) Build climate resilience and adaptive capacity to respond to climate change risk and vulnerability; b) Promote the integration of climate change adaptation response into development objectives, policy, planning and implementation; c) Improve understanding of climate change impacts and capacity to respond to these impacts; d) Ensure resources and systems are in place to enable implementation of climate change responses.


NCCAS also has some strategic interventions, which are:

  1. Reduce human, economic, environmental, physical, and ecological infrastructure vulnerability and build adaptive capacity;

  2. Develop a coordinated climate services system that provides climate products and services for key climate-vulnerable sectors and geographic areas;

  3. Develop a vulnerability and resilience methodology framework that integrates biophysical and socio-economic aspects of vulnerability and resilience;

  4. Facilitate mainstreaming of adaptation responses into sectoral planning and implementation;

  5. Promote research application, technology development, transfer and adoption to support planning and implementation;

  6. Build the necessary capacity and awareness for climate change responses;

  7. Establish effective governance and legislative processes to integrate climate change in development planning;

  8. Enable substantial flows of climate change adaptation finance from various sources;

  9. Develop and implement an M&E system that tracks implementation of adaptation actions and their effectiveness.


Discussion and Conclusion


The risks that weather and climate pose to human life are in most cases specific to the particular circumstances of time and place. In more ways than one, they are also a complex function of an array of interwoven factors and on-the-ground realities. Accordingly, several identifiable important gaps in adaptation practices as recommended by global policy include a failure to prioritise local or indigenous knowledge in the building of such mitigation and adaptation measures. It is of great importance that policy and planning frameworks for climate change at all levels should prioritise context, as it can serve as an essential platform for generating local knowledge, which is invaluable for mitigation and adaptation measures.


It is also important to highlight that in high-income countries, adaptation has formed a critical part of all policy measures and has been described as yielding positive results. In low-income countries, however, there is often a lack of things like “resources needed to build sea walls, improve agricultural systems, and develop storm-resistant infrastructure. This disparity both reflects and exacerbates the unjust way climate change is unfolding. Although low-income countries are the least responsible for climate change, they’re often the most affected by it. The UN estimates that developing countries currently need an estimated $70 billion annually to adapt to climate change and could need as much as $300 billion by 2030” (McCarthy, 2021).


Furthermore, evidence shows that, in some developed countries adaptation is directly linked with the saving of lives. A case in point, it is estimated that about 15,000 people died in France in 2003 because of scorching August temperatures. Similarly, another heatwave in 2019 is said to have killed an estimated 1,500 people. The noticeable decrease in deaths from heatwaves in this situation is a vast improvement, “thanks to increased awareness of the threat, public policy and private investment. There is now targeted support and medical attention for the most vulnerable. Opening hours for swimming pools were extended. The authorities put air-conditioning into some public buildings. Many private citizens installed it, too” (Economist, 2022).


In Africa, and in South Africa in particular, adaptation policies are fraught with several challenges. Indeed, it has been observed that amongst developing and emerging economies, South Africa has one of the most elaborate and consultative climate governance systems in place. As efforts are made to implement national climate goals and ramp up ambitions to achieve the aims of adaptation and mitigation efforts, there are still some critical challenges that the country needs to address for success to be guaranteed (Poopola, Yusuf & Monde, 2020).


The challenges cited above are not only critical but also diverse. Some are a direct consequence of an overstretched, depleted and eroded human and technical capacity (Grootes, 2019). Others are a consequence of institutional or structural variables such as a historical tension between the main players, confusion about the mandate and lack of clarity in the delegation of responsibilities, lack of ownership “over implementation agendas, multiple ministries dealing with issues concurrently without sufficient coordination, and cumbersome and ineffective communication practices. These challenges have been exacerbated by a wider political context of several years of political crisis and ‘state capture’ over the past 10 years, which resulted in uncertainty over the direction of climate change and energy policy, distracted leadership and low political will to act further” (Averchenkova, Gannon & Curran, 2019:4).


Further, it is important that local communities play a critical role in adaptation measures. Their involvement in adaptation initiatives within their local area holds a high chance of success. By giving priority to the context, concerns, and climate-specific challenges of a local population, we can easily evaluate the effectiveness of such measures based on the outcomes and make the adjustments to policies and strategies as required.


Inherently, the effectiveness of disaster management systems hinges on the level of preparedness against erratic extreme weather patterns. While the country has led the way globally in promulgating compressive and elaborate climate change policies, it has failed at implementation and in assuming a hegemonic leadership role in this field on the continent. With increased focus, the emplacement of adaptation and resilience measures will be effective, with improved climate governance and political will.


In sum, adaptation is primarily a local issue, in the sense that it must be designed in conjunction with local communities, and with cognisance of their climate change induced challenges. In so doing, adaptation is said to significantly provide benefits at the local level, both short term and long term, by reducing vulnerability. Given that South Africa is often described as a water-scarce country, the forgoing fact has an array of implications for agriculture, food security, and on the overall livelihood of the country. The reason being that in addition to being water scarce, there are other parts of South Africa that are flood prone.


Consequently, adaptation should be a priority in the water and agricultural sectors and in coastal or low-lying areas – areas prone to floods and droughts. It is important to underscore that the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal further thrust into the light the necessity for urgent action towards climate change mitigation. By implication, South Africa, as the article has briefly expressed, does not suffer from a dearth of climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. In fact, the city of Durban was one of the first (2014) to enact climate change mitigation and adaptation policy at a provincial level (Meissner, 2022).


The problem, however, is the lack of implementation of extant policies. Mismanagement and lack of critical urban planning have been described as factors impeding the efficient implementation of green policies. In Richard Meissner’s (2022) view, the recent floods in Durban (eThekwini municipality) “placed the spotlight on the management of urban areas and their vulnerability to natural disasters. That homes had been built close to rivers and on floodplains indicates a shortfall in urban planning”.


Given the events of the aforementioned flood, the need for provincial governments to act decisively and extensively has been accentuated. More so, there is the view held by paradiplomatic scholars like Magam (2018) that provincial government through the devolution of power, enjoy a considerable amount of autonomy, which allows them to promulgate policies that are necessary for the development of the province and the improvement of livelihoods. Similarly, Meissner (2022) concurs that “municipalities have a considerable degree of independence in South Africa. The country’s Climate Change White Paper also recognises local governments as essential actors in the climate change response. They are responsible for providing and managing water. And they can largely choose how they do this”.


Indeed, the global goal of climate change mitigation is “to reduce net emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The Paris Agreement intends to limit global warming to below 2°C and preferably to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels” (Szönyi, 2021). To achieve this goal, Micheal Szönyi (2021) suggests that there is a need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, industrial farming, inter alia, “as this would reduce human greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible and achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century – in other words, a world where we do not emit more greenhouse gases than the Earth can handle without further warming”.


As such, the trajectory of climate change mitigation has developed two focus areas: “reducing emissions and increasing carbon sinks. We can reduce emissions by, for example, replacing coal-fired power generation with renewable energy sources like solar and wind. We can also change our personal behaviour by reducing our consumption or by cutting down on our flights. In the end, the goal is to transition towards a low-carbon, and eventually a zero-carbon emitting economy and lifestyle” (ibid).


While the global goal for climate mitigation has been clearly articulated and planned, in a country like South Africa there are suggestions that in addition to extant policies, a province like KwaZulu-Natal, for instance, requires other specific measures to combat and adapt to the impacts of climate change. As Meissner (2022) describes it:


Much of the global thinking about managing risks like flooding uses the concepts of green and ecological infrastructure. They highlight the role of “natural” infrastructure in mitigating natural and human-induced risks. Examples include open green spaces and water bodies, green roofs and walls, street trees, ponds, urban wetlands, restored watercourses and reconnected floodplains. Green infrastructure refers more to metropolitan environments and ecological infrastructure to rural locations. Both concepts come into play in South African municipalities. This is because they tend to be a mix of city and semi-rural environments, with formal and informal settlements.


There is no doubt that climate change policies and action plans are not the priority of the national government, but provincial, and in other cases municipal, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures are necessary.


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[1] The Western Cape province experienced a devastating drought between the years 2016 and 2018. The widely reported “Day Zero” crisis, wherein the Cape Town city faced the possibility of the taps running dry presented an acute shock and highlighted major vulnerabilities in the city’s water supply system, which relies largely on six large dams that had run dry. This water scarcity was and still is associated with the increasing threat posed by climate change impacts (including changing rainfall patterns and rising temperatures) leading to increasing water demand (Fell & Carden, 2022).


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This report has been published by the Inclusive Society Institute

The Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) is an autonomous and independent institution that functions independently from any other entity. It is founded for the purpose of supporting and further deepening multi-party democracy. The ISI’s work is motivated by its desire to achieve non-racialism, non-sexism, social justice and cohesion, economic development and equality in South Africa, through a value system that embodies the social and national democratic principles associated with a developmental state. It recognises that a well-functioning democracy requires well-functioning political formations that are suitably equipped and capacitated. It further acknowledges that South Africa is inextricably linked to the ever transforming and interdependent global world, which necessitates international and multilateral cooperation. As such, the ISI also seeks to achieve its ideals at a global level through cooperation with like-minded parties and organs of civil society who share its basic values. In South Africa, ISI’s ideological positioning is aligned with that of the current ruling party and others in broader society with similar ideals.


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