‘Climate change and Southern Africa’

Report (link to pdf) written for the Economic Justice Network


Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, measured at Cape Point
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, measured at Cape Point

At the moment, failing a dramatic increase in political commitment from world leaders, the world’s current and likely future carbon emissions will create at least three degrees of warming. Scientists believe this warming is likely to cause the final disappearance of the Arctic icecap by 2030, severe droughts, heat waves and wildfires in Southern Africa, the possible disappearance of much of the Amazon rainforest, and acidification of oceans, in turn likely destroying much marine life.

These consequences would have dramatic effects on human well-being, and in Southern Africa are likely to lead to increased food insecurity, droughts, an increased number of extreme weather events, increased disease burdens and probable increases in migration and conflicts, not to mention complex economic knock-on effects as climate change and sharply increasing energy costs force dramatic change in the world economy.

Southern African countries can prepare themselves for the consequences of climate change by developing human capital, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy use. It will be vital to make agriculture more sustainable: less water and energy intensive. The region should simultaneously fight in international negotiations for emissions cuts by both rich and developing countries that match what is required by science to stop dangerous climate change.


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I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.

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