climate change environment month south africa june

Photo: Envato Elements/kwestdigital

Environment Month 2019 – What you need to know about climate change in South Africa

National Environment month is celebrated every year in June, with the South African government focused on raising awareness about climate change.

climate change environment month south africa june

Photo: Envato Elements/kwestdigital

The international cousin of National Environment Month – World Environment Day – forms part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is celebrated annually on 5 June. The focus this year is on climate change.

The day was adopted in the early seventies with a view to deepening environmental awareness. In addition, governments address concerns about the depletion of the ozone layers, global warming, desertification, etc.

In South Africa, we dedicate the entire month of June to environmental concerns, with the Department of Environmental Affairs leading the way. According to the department:

The last 20 years have entailed a steady evolution of climate change mitigation, planning and response at national, provincial and municipal levels.

Environment Month 2019

Climate change in South Africa

Fittingly, the theme for this year is “Raising your voice, not the sea level.”

The impact on coastal settlements remains a grave concern and will be at the forefront of this year’s discussions. The change may reduce the value of South African fisheries by up to 18%.

This is due to rising sea levels and extreme weather changes. Coastal areas could be partially or fully inundated. This in turn could result in loss of property and damage to infrastructure.

Furthermore, climate change also indirectly impacts on coastal roads, railways, and fishing ports and harbours.

Apart from the damage to infrastructure along the coast, the rising sea levels may also deepen harbours and reduce the need for dredging activities.

This has an effect on the coastal economies, fish stocks, ocean acidification and changes to aquatic nutrients; which threaten marine biodiversity, as well as the export of fish stocks.

Also read – Climate change possibly to blame for the death of Africa’s oldest baobab trees

How is government taking action?

In Southern Africa, climate change is affecting rainfall and temperature. Apart from causing sea levels to rise, it also brings about longer and more intense droughts.

The National Climate Response Policy “lays out a comprehensive climate change response for the country”. The government is prioritising climate change in this regard.

Furthermore, the objective of the policy is to “manage the transition to a climate-resilient, equitable and internationally competitive lower-carbon economy and society.”

The National Climate Change Response White Paper lays out the policy’s objectives.

Also read – Eco-conscious Cape Town a world leader of environmental change