As a result of climate change, Africa is expected to experience an increase in temperatures and extreme weather conditions.
“Our country and the continent are becoming hotter and drier. We are going to have far more extreme events such as droughts, floods, sea level rise and fires. We expect these to increase in intensity and frequency,” said May Hermanus, the Executive Director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Addressing the launch of the second edition of the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas (SARVA) in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Hermanus said the impacts of climate change are going to intensify, impacting on the population, with the poor being particularly affected.
“It’s important that we respond to these issues appropriately. They are absolutely important for the sustainability of our country.
“We need government, the private sector, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and civil society to not only have an understanding of the issues at hand, but we also need to co-own a strategy for how we address those issues and then we need to ensure that we can implement them together,” she said.
The atlas has findings of current research on the risk and vulnerability of key social and economic sectors to climate change. According to the atlas, temperatures over South Africa may be expected to rise faster than the global mean temperature, with parts of the interior projected to warm up by as much as three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
“Eastern South Africa is projected to experience summers with more intense rainfall evets, whilst drier winters are projected to the southwestern Cape,” the atlas reads.
South Africa is working to implement the Paris Agreement, which is aimed at limiting global temperature rise.
The objective of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels) and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
National Business Initiative (NBI) Programme Manager for Climate and Water, Alex McNamara, said there are four main ways in which climate change is impacting on companies. These include the availability of raw materials, risks to infrastructure and physical assets, the interruption of operations as well as the health and safety of employees and communities.
McNamara said companies do not always recognise the business imperative for engaging in adaptation planning.
“Traditionally, climate risks are positioned as environmental issues, rather than risks that could impact on company survival.
“Most risk management specialists lack the required climate change related knowledge or expertise,” McNamara said.
McNamara said business is and must remain at the forefront of adaptation planning, including the financing and implementation of solutions.
“There’s still a concern… Hopefully the water crisis will change this. There’s a sense that climate change is still in the future but actually we are living [it],” McNamara said.