Climate change marchers demand the government take note of their requests for a greener world. Picture: Brenton Geach

Johannesburg - South Africa is already feeling the negative effects of global warming, the Presidency said on Monday ahead of the Paris climate change summit.

In a statement the Presidency quoted Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa as saying: “The impacts of climate change affect everyone, and will potentially unravel the massive development achievements of our young democracy should we not act timely”.

Molewa, who is in Paris, adds: “African countries are already experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change. We must anticipate that these impacts will worsen over time, unless global greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, with developed countries taking the lead”.

She said South Africa was already experiencing water stress and drought in many parts of the country. Molewa said climate change affects every sector of the country’s economy and life of its people.

“There are likely to be health impacts that will magnify the challenges of food and water insecurity. Increasing strain on the resilience of many ecosystems will affect the livelihoods of people living in rural areas,” said Molewa, who is accompanying President Jacob Zuma.

“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.”

She said agriculture production, and food security in many African countries, was likely to be severely compromised by climate variability and change.

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

“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. Water security is also likely to be affected,” said Molewa.

The 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris concludes a four-year negotiating process that was mandated by the global climate change negotiations hosted by South Africa in 2011 in Durban.

About 150 heads of state are expected to attend the Paris summit