National climate change response

Date: May 28, 2012
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The policy outlined in this Green Paper serves as the embodiment of the South African Government’s commitment to a fair contribution to the stabilisation of global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and the protection of the country and its people from the impacts of unavoidable climate change. It presents the Government’s vision for an effective climate change response and the long-term transition to a climate resilient and low-carbon economy and society – a vision premised on Government’s commitment to sustainable development and a better life for all. Should multi-lateral international action not effectively limit the average global temperature increase to below at least 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, the potential impacts on South Africa in the medium- to long-term are significant and potentially catastrophic. Even under emission scenarios that are more conservative than current international emission trends, it has been predicted that by mid-century the South African coast will warm by around 1-2 °C, and the interior by around 2-3 °C. After 2050, warming is projected to reach around 3-4 °C along the coast, and 6-7 °C in the interior. With these kinds of temperature increases, life as we know it will change completely – parts of the country will be much drier; increased evaporation will ensure an overall decrease in water availability significantly affecting human health, agriculture and the environment in general; the increased occurrence and severity of veld and forest fires and especially extreme weather events such as floods and droughts will also have significant impacts; sea-level rise will negatively impact the coast and coastal infrastructure; mass extinctions of endemic plant and animal species will greatly reduce South Africa’s biodiversity.

Publisher: Government of the Republic of South Africa

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