Climate change seriously affecting S. Africa

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The impacts of climate change affect everyone, and will potentially unravel the massive development achievements of South Africa's young democracy if no timely actions were taken, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said on Monday.

African countries are already experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change, Molewa said as the 21rst Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention took place in Paris.

"We must anticipate that these impacts will worsen over time, unless global greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, with developed countries taking the lead,"the minister said in a statement distributed by the SA Presidency.

Agriculture production, and food security in many African countries are likely to be severely compromised by climate variability and change, she said.

The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease, according to Molewa.

"This will affect farmers, and it will in particular, affect the women and many children of our continent who strive every day to ensure that there is food on the table for their families," she said, adding that water security is also likely to be affected.

South Africa is already experiencing water stress and drought in many parts of the country.

"Increasing strain on the resilience of many ecosystems will affect the livelihoods of people living in rural areas. The people and infrastructure in coastal areas will face the risk of coastal flooding because of sea level rise. And fish stocks will be impacted by the warming of the ocean," Molewa noted.

South Africa has called for a fair and ambitious legally binding agreement on climate change at the Paris Climate Change Conference.

South Africa has long put in place progressive, innovative and proactive policies and plans to deal with an ever-changing climate. These policies are guided by the overarching principle of sustainable development, which is the cornerstone of Vision 2030 contained in the National Development Plan (NDP).

"These policies, strategies and planning instruments instituted by this government demonstrate that we are proudly leading from the front, and at the same time hard at work behind the scenes, and beyond the headlines, to ensure that the Paris climate change negotiations produce a multilateral legal agreement that is ambitious, fair and effective and balances development priorities with the need and urgency to address the global challenge of climate change," said Molewa.

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