Rural Dwellers, Already Prone to Geopolitical and Economic Marginalization, are Predominantly Affected by Climate Change in South Africa

Rural Dwellers, Already Prone to Geopolitical and Economic Marginalization, are Predominantly Affected by Climate Change in South Africa

South Africa is ranked as the second most inequitable country in the world. South Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by the economic inequality, poverty, and our current dependency on coal-fired power generation. The ability to adapt to climate change may be characterised by the same inequalities that have become the fault lines of society in South Africa. Regardless of the rapid urbanization, more people in South Africa continue to live in rural areas and informal settlements. The rural economy depends largely on climate‐sensitive sectors such as agriculture and natural resources for livelihoods and informal settlements are set up in locations that are vulnerable to extreme weather events. Climate change has considerable impacts on those who depend on climate sensitive resources and ecosystems for their livelihoods.

Rural dwellers who are already prone to geopolitical and economic marginalization are predominantly affected by climate change. Many rural areas are populated by high numbers of children, women, and the elderly. Children, women, and the elderly are more vulnerable to climate change. Women particularly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty.

South Africa released a draft Climate Change Bill in June 2018. The objectives of the bill are to provide for a coordinated and integrated response to climate change, effective management of inevitable climate change impacts and to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations – all to ensure that economic and social development occur in an environmentally sustainable manner. The draft National Climate Change Bill shows promise.

However, it has been more than 2 years since the first Climate Change Bill was drafted. During the delivery of the state of the nation address in parliament  – SONA2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa will finalise a climate change bill “shortly” as it embarks on a low-carbon growth trajectory.

Activity Rating: ** Standing Still

Regardless of the policies promoting an ambitious renewable energy programme, the country’s response to climate change has been delayed by policy uncertainty and corruption.

Take Action


Send a message to the Presidency calling for the Climate Change Bill to be finalised.

The bill will create legal requirements to enhance the institutional capacity of the Department of Environmental Affairs and other relevant departments to address climate change. Its provisions for coordination among different government departments have the potential to get rid of the policy uncertainty and align related policies.

The clock is ticking — finalise the bill as it will enable South Africa to reach its domestic and international commitments.

Send message to Personal Assistant to the President, Malebo Sibiya

Telephone: +27 12 300 5271

Fax: +27 12 323 3114


Learn more

For a more comprehensive view of draft Climate Change Bill see,

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Tabana Mailula

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