South Africa

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting South Africa.


South Africa is developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Plan to be integrated into all relevant sector plans, and upon which its UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan (NAP) will be based. This plan is informed by an assessment of sectoral, cross-sectoral and geographical vulnerabilities to the adverse impacts of climate change, and it will quantify and present pathways for adaptation, towards an inclusive and just transition to a climate resilient economy and society, taking into account local and indigenous knowledge, gender considerations, as well as social, economic and environmental implications. (South Africa's First NDC, 2016)

Adaptation Options for Key Sectors

  • Implement efficient Climate Smart and Conservation Agriculture practices by developing climate resistant crop varieties (crop diversification),
  • Promote conservation tillage and initiate country wide organic farming pilot projects.
  • Integrate Ecosystem and community-based adaptation practices, where feasible.
  • Invest and improve on research capabilities with regards to investigation and implementation of water and nutrient conservation technologies.
  •  Invest in education and awareness program in rural areas and link these to agricultural extension activities to enable both subsistence and commercial producers to understand, respond and adapt to the challenges of climate change.
  • Strengthen regulation measures to protect natural resources, provide adaptation options that consider sustainable water use and management, and integrate climate change into land reform processes.
  • Use early warning systems to assist with timely early warnings of adverse weather and the possibility of related pest and disease occurrence
  • Assess and investigate appropriate and country specific adaptation options in relation to their costs and associated environmental risk,
  • Support the agricultural industry's proactive efforts to exploit new agricultural potential and opportunities (new areas, new crops, etc.) and reduce the impacts on existing potential (crop switches, etc.).
  • Implement integrated water resource management, including but not limited to protecting and restoring natural systems, and increasing conjunctive use of surface and ground water.
  • Invest in monitoring capabilities across a range of disciplines in order to spot and understand trends, and to track the efficacy of adaptive strategies. Vigorously enforce compliance with water quality standards.
  • Accelerate the finalization and implementation of cost reflective water and water-use pricing, including effluent charges.
  • Increase investments in maintenance and renewals to minimize system losses in infrastructure networks.
  • Invest in new groundwater development, alternative water supply sources, flood protection measures, infrastructure safety, hydro-geo-meteorological monitoring system
  • Optimize the re-use of wastewater, including increasing investments in wastewater treatment capacity to meet stipulated norms and standards for waste discharge.
  • Develop and implement household rainwater harvesting incentive programs and explore desalination opportunities.
  • Support accelerated research, development and implementation of carbon capture and storage applications for CO2 rich industrial process emissions.
  • Integrate climate constraints into energy planning tools, diversify the energy mix, implement far reaching energy efficiency measures, and invest in new and cleaner technologies
  • Extend research, development and demonstration efforts on new construction materials, housing design, and energy efficient buildings.
  • Improve energy efficiency knowledge and understanding in the various sectors via awareness campaigns, demonstration programs, audits and education, and publicize corporate commitment programs, and public building sector energy efficiency implementation.
  • Design and implement of market-based policy measures such as an escalating carbon tax to price carbon and internalize the external costs of climate change;
  • Implement of a renewable energy feed-in tariff at a level adequate to incentivize large-scale investment.
  • Develop renewable energy policy, legal and regulatory frameworks that allow for differentiated but specific targets, parameters and tariffs for all renewable energy technology options (wind, hydro, solar PV, CSP, landfill gas, biomass and bio-fuels).
  • Develop, implement and maintain a greenhouse gas emissions information management system for the energy sector; Invest in new and clean coal technologies and efficient technologies
  • Promote the development and implementation of appropriate standards and guidelines and codes of practice for the appropriate use of renewable energy, energy efficient and low carbon technologies.
  • Introduce Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for appliances and equipment, as well as proposals for mandatory energy rating labeling.
  • Develop legislative policy and regulatory framework to support carbon capture and storage. Improve industrial and commercial energy efficiency.
  • Explore and further develop the potential for nuclear energy.
  • Develop and rollout public awareness campaigns on the health risks of high temperatures and appropriate responses, including improved ventilation and avoidance behavior.
  • Design and implement improved climate-sensitive disease surveillance and control, safe water and improved sanitation.
  • Develop a health data capturing system that records data both at spatial and temporal scales and that ensures that information collected can be imported into multiple-risk systems such as the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas electronic spatial database system.
  • Improve the bio safety of the current malaria control strategy.
  • Strengthen the awareness program on diseases-climate linkage, especially Malaria and Cholera outbreaks.
  • Design transport policies and developments that result in a modal shift in passenger transport to public and low carbon forms of transport including plans to move freight from road to rail over time.
  • Encourage the integration of land use and transportation planning in cities in a manner that encourages public transport, non-motorized transport (walking and cycling) and promotes alternative communication methods such as telecommuting, in order to reduce long term transport fuel use patterns.
  • Improve the efficiency of vehicle fleet across the board through a range of measures including the use of fuel standards.
  • Invest in the further development and deployment of cleaner technologies for the transport sector such as electric vehicles and hybrids.
  • Build capacity to deal with transport mitigation in the areas of planning, engineering, and relevant technical skills.
  • Support the production and use of cleaner fuel technologies and alternative fuels away from current fossil fuels.
  • Implement the flat rate specific excise tax based on passenger vehicle carbon emissions which applies to each gram CO2 vehicle emissions above a target range and investigate expanding the emissions tax to include other categories of motor vehicles.
  • Consider further incentives in the form of lower fuel taxes to encourage cleaner fuels, e.g. cleaner diesel fuel.
  • Integrate climate change information into transport planning, in order to minimize the potential risk to infrastructure from extreme weather events.