A status quo, vulnerability and adaptation assessment of the physical and socio-economic effects of climate change in the Western Cape

The South African Country Study on Climate Change, carried out in the late 1990’s, identified the Northern and Western Cape Provinces as being most at risk from projected climate change-induced warming and rainfall change (results of this study are summarized in South Africa’s initial National Communication, prepared in accordance with Article 12 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: www.environment.gov.za/Documents/Documents/2005Feb22/NatCom_Nov%202003%20(b). doc ). However, this study was based on a limited set of model projections of climate change that have now been superseded by projections using more advanced techniques. In this study we have carried out a broad reassessment of the vulnerability of the Western Cape to climate change impacts, using a wider range of climate scenarios from more sophisticated climate models, and for a range of sectors (with the exception of agriculture and fisheries, according to our brief). We also identify some key adaptive strategies that might alleviate or avoid the worst impacts of climate change in some sectors. We conclude that further detailed study of some of the implications of these findings will be necessary to explore these and further strategies in order to guide policy development.