Climate Change Report 2009 – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
by Earthlife Africa Jhb and Oxfam International

In climate terms, South Africa is already living on the edge. Much of it is arid or semi-arid and the whole country is subject to droughts and floods. Even small variations in rainfall or temperatures would exacerbate this already stressed environment. Most South African crops are grown in areas that are only just climatically suitable and with limited water supplies.

But that climate is set to change for the worse because of rising global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indeed, there are already ominous signs of change that dry seasons are becoming longer and wet seasons starting later. Rainfall is reported to be becoming even more variable, with rain coming in more concentrated, violent bursts. When the Government of South Africa used internationally agreed scientific computer models to explore the potential impacts of climate change on South Africa over the next 50 years, it predicted:



  • A continental warming of between 1° and 3° Celsius.
  • Broad reductions of approximately 5-10% of current rainfall, but with higher rainfall in the east and drier conditions in the west of South Africa
  • Increased summer rainfall in the northeast and the southwest, but a reduction of the duration of the summer rains in the northeast, and an overall reduction of rainfall in the southwest of South Africa
  • Increased rainfall in the northeast of the country during the winter season
  • Increased daily maximum temperatures in summer and autumn in the western half of the country
  • Weather conditions with a reduction in frost, which could see malaria mosquitoes expand their range onto the Highveld


As the climate changes, it is South Africa’s poor, the majority of the population, who will be the hardest hit. Climate change worsens existing vulnerabilities and adds to the pressures on the environment and natural resources on which so many South Africans directly rely. Climate change could increase the prevalence and distribution of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever and water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Such things mean that people living with HIV and AIDS in particular would experience increased risks.

South Africa has been playing an influential role as a developing country in the international negotiations even though it is not yet obliged to make commitments to reduce emissions. But South Africa is also part of the problem – the largest emitter of green house gases on the African continent and home to the world’s biggest single emitter of CO2 …

For the full executive summary and the entire report, please download the Climate Change Report 2009 (1MB).

As an alternative download site, please us Oxfam’s link.

This report was written by Ferrial Adam and Rehana Dada.