Abstract: Climate change is one of the most complex challenges facing South Africa as the country designs plans and policies for future economic growth and development. Higher temperatures and more variable rainfall are already affecting the economy and are expected to continue for decades. The degree to which climate change affects different regions in South Africa is likely to vary significantly, characterized by wide ranges in the direction and magnitude of change in key climate variables, especially precipitation. These uncertainties interact with South Africa’s growth and development challenges and complicate planning and policy formation in support national development objectives.
This chapter presents key research on changes in climate experienced in South Africa in recent years, along with projected changes in years to come. It illustrates the uncertainties related to climate change and the key channels through which climate change affects the economy. The economic and developmental impacts of such changes are presented along with the lessons for adaptation policy. As energy will be a key focus area for mitigation efforts in the country, this chapter also outlines the implications of such a transition and the factors that need to be accounted for in limiting the impacts on vulnerable populations.