Climate Change: the Potential Impact on the It Industry in South Africa

Topics: Global warming, Climate change, Climate Pages: 7 (2575 words) Published: August 16, 2007
The purpose of this document is to investigate the impact of climate change on the Information Technology (IT) industry in South Africa. Initial investigation will be into what is happening to the global and South African climate based on recent studies and academic papers. By then examining the impact of climate change on each sector, and by examining the percentage of IT spend per sector, the impact on IT during our lifetimes can be extrapolated.

2.Global Climate Change; South African Impact
2.1.The average global temperature has historically varied significantly creating periods of cooling (¡¥ice-ages¡¦) and warming. Evidence shows that the world¡¦s climate is warming. Africa¡¦s climate has warmed by about 0.5„aC during the 20th century (Nkomo, Nyong & Lulindwa, 2006). The debate over if climate change is caused by humans or not is beyond the scope of this document, however it has been shown historically that there is a direct correlation between CO2 levels and global temperature (see Appendix 1). The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) argues that urgent action needs to be taken to stabilise the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. At current CO2 output, this could result in a 2„aC increase in average global temperature by 2050. 2.2.Global warming is expected to have a generally warming and drying effect on most of Southern Africa (Fairbanks & Scholes, 1999), with a decrease in precipitation of 5 to 10% (IPCC HadCM2 General Circulation Model). 2.3.Logically agriculture, forestry and related industries such as alcoholic beverages, foodstuff exports and pulp and paper will be most affected. Even taking into account the expected fertilisation effect of increased CO2 levels, it is expected that forestry output will decline by 48% (Fairbanks and Scholes, 1999). Maize production, a Southern African staple, is predicted to be reduced by between 10 and 20% depending on geographic location (Kiker, 2000). As warming will allow northern countries to increase food production, it is not anticipated that there will be a global shortage of food. South Africa may become a net importer of food. 2.4.Gauteng accounts for 34% of South Africa¡¦s GDP (Johannesburg News Agency, 2007). Manufacturing and electricity generation require vast amounts of water. 2.5.Sea levels are expected to rise by up to 1 meter (Nicholls, 2003) 2.6.An increase in the severity and impact of extreme weather is predicted. 2.7.Tourism is expected to be affected negatively by up to 36% or an estimated 3% of GDP due to loss of biodiversity (Turpie, Winkler, Spalding-Fecher & Mingle, 2002). 2.8.Warmer temperatures will increase the risk of vector-borne disease such as malaria by up to four times in South Africa (Turpie et al, 2002). Githeko and Ndegwa (2001) found a five-fold reduction in GDP in areas where malaria is prevalent which could be attributed to the loss of production by factors of production from illness and death. The private healthcare sector may benefit from increased patient numbers. 2.9.Climate change may result in an influx of climate refugees into South Africa.

3.Mitigation of Climate Change:
3.1.The Kyoto protocol identified CO2 as the major contributor to climate change and seeks to reduce carbon and other emission levels of industrialised countries by 29% overall by 2010 (UNEP Press Release, 1998). 3.2.If emission reduction is required by legislation in South Africa, this may have negative impacts on electricity, manufacturing and transport industries. 3.2.1.The majority of South Africa¡¦s electricity production is from coal-fired power stations which have high emissions levels and use huge amounts of water. However there are business opportunities: Department of Trade and Industry announced that the construction of a second conventional nuclear power plant has been approved (DTI press release, 2007). China is building 30 new conventional nuclear power stations, providing...
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