Economic impacts of climate change in South Africa: A preliminary assessment of unmitigated damage costs

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University of Cape Town

This study aimed to provide a preliminary desktop estimate of the economic impacts of climate change in South Africa, based on the findings of the Vulnerability and Adaptation Study for the South African Country Study on Climate Change (1999). Damages are those predicted for 2050 and are valued in year 2000 rands, unless otherwise stated. Predicted impacts from this study include changes in terrestrial and marine ecosystems which will have profound impacts on agriculture, forestry, rangelands and fisheries, as well as on biodiversity. In addition, changes n hydrology may have immense consequences in terms of human health by increasing suitable habitat for waterborne diseases, as well as affecting water supply and the maintenance of ecosystem functioning. Prediction of the economic impacts of climate change is particularly difficult because of the global scale of the impacts and the long time horizon involved. Such studies have mostly been carried out in developed countries, and often only concentrate on market impacts such as agriculture. Impacts are typically divided into market and non-market impacts, with ecosystem and health damages relegated to the latter category, but this study recognises that all impacts have their basis in changes to natural systems, and that all types of impacts have both market and non-market components.