Free State

This page provides a summary of key provincial climate change issues and links to district level climate change information. Click on the links on the right for more information on each of the District Municipalities in the Province.

Climate Change Strategy

To be updated.

Provincial Overview

Limpopo is South Africa’s 5th largest province with a total land area of 125,755 square kilometres, and has a population of 5.4-million people. The capital of the province is Polokwane, which is located in the centre of the province. Other important urban centres include Modimolle, Makhado and Musina, and the mining centres of Phalaborwa and Thabazimbi. The province is composed of five district municipalities as shown in the figure below (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2015).

Figure: Free State province and its municipalities
According to the 2011Census, the Free State has the second lowest population in the country with a total population of 2,745,590. The population growth rate in the province is also lower than the national average. The province is however experiencing fast rates of rural to urban migration within the province with the percentage of people living in urban centers increasing from 70% in 2001 to over 76% in 2012 (Free State Province: Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, 2014; Free State Department of Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs, 2008).

The province’s economy is based on mining and agriculture, however, these sectors have both been in decline since the 1990s, and the Free State is characterised with low rates of economic growth. Overall, the province contributes a total of R65 billion to the country’s GDP (4.7% of the total GDP). Unemployment is higher than the national average and was recorded at 32.6% in 2011. Poverty levels in the province are high with the average household income lower than the national average. High levels of HIV/AIDS infection is increasing economic burdens on families and on the state (Free State Province: Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, 2014). 

 
The province is dominated by the grassland biome and its topography consists of escarpments, undulating terrains, plains and pans. Rainfall in the province is influenced by the topography with the eastern highlands receiving more rainfall (1224mm per annum) than the undulating terrain in the west (290mm per annum) (Free State Province: Department of Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, 2014).

Greenhouse Gas Data

Electricity Sales

There are a range of sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions at the provincial and district level. One of the main sources of GHGs is from electricity. Although the GHGs associated with the generation of electricity is recorded at a national level, provinces and municipalities typically record the GHGs associated with the sale of electricity.  The map below is a summary of the GHGs from the sale of electricity in the province. This data is sourced from Stats SA for the provinces and divided into district data by the proportion of houshold numbers in the district.

Figure: Total electricity sales (GgCO2e) in Free State

Liquid Fuel Sales

A second major source of GHGs is from the sale of liquid fuels. This includes jet fuel, aviation gasoline, diesel, furnace oil, LPG, paraffin and petrol. The map below is a summary of the GHGs from the sale of liquid fuels in the province. Each fuel is converted to Gigagram Carbon Dioxide equivalent (GgCO2e) using specific emission factors from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Emission Factor Database. 

Figure: Total liquid fuel sales (GgCO2e) in Free State

Key Climate Hazards

Increasing temperatures

The figure below shows projected changes in annual average temperatures, highlighting increasing temperatures throughout the province for the period 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario. By 2050, the province is projected to be affected by higher annual average temperatures, which will adversely affect water and food security.  Evaporation rates will also likely increase and agricultural outputs may reduce.

Figure: Projected changes in annual average temperatures throughout Free State over the period 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario (CSIR 2019)

Increasing rainfall variability

The figure below shows projected shifts in annual average rainfall throughout the province between 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario. Annual average rainfall amounts vary across the province. There is uncertainty regarding projected future rainfall.

Figure: Projected changes in annual average rainfall throughout Free State over the period 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario (CSIR 2019)

Increasing storms and flooding events

The figure below shows projected changes in the annual average number of extreme rainfall days throughout the province over the period 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario.  Increases in the number of rainfall days are likely to result in an increase in intense storms, and flooding events across the province.

Figure: Projected changes in the annual average number of extreme rainfall days throughout Free State over the period 2021-2050 under the RCP 8.5 scenario (CSIR 2019)

Changing Biomes

The current delineation of biomes is depicted in the figure below, with the predicted shift in biomes shown in the following figure based on a high-risk scenario. The biomes have varying sensitivities to the projected impacts of climate change which are further exacerbated by issues such as the fragmentation of natural areas and unsustainable water usage rates.

Figure: The current delineation of biomes in Free State (SANParks 2011a)
Figure: The predicted shift in biomes in Free State using a high-risk scenario (SANParks 2011b)

Climate Change Vulnerability

The CSIR Greenbook has developed and refined a vulnerability assessment framework by collating relevant data into composite vulnerability indicators. Four local municipality level vulnerability indices were computed and are shown spatially below.

Socio-Economic Vulnerability

Social inequalities are the factors that affect the susceptibility and coping mechanisms of communities and households. Indicators for social vulnerability attempt to consider the sensitivity, response and recovery from the impacts of natural hazards. The CSIR Green Book has developed a socio-economic vulnerability index that is measured on a scale from 1 (low vulnerability) to 10 (high vulnerability).   The map below shows the Socio-Economic vulnerability score of each municipality in the province visually.

Figure: Socio-economic vulnerability per local municipality in Free State (Le Roux, van Huyssteen, et al. 2019)

Environmental Vulnerability

Environmental vulnerability describes the vulnerability and risk to the natural environment and the impacts on the ecological infrastructure of which surrounding settlements are dependent. The environmental risk of an area includes ecosystems, habitats, physical and biological processes (reproduction, diversity, energy flows, etc). The CSIR Green Book has developed an Environmental Vulnerability Index that is measured on a scale from 1 (low vulnerability) to 10 (high vulnerability). The map below shows the environmental vulnerability score of each municipality in the province visually.

Figure: Environmental vulnerability per local municipality in Free State (Le Roux, van Huyssteen, et al. 2019)

Physical Vulnerability

Physical vulnerability describes the physical fabric and connectedness of settlements (buildings and infrastructure) and focuses mainly on the conditions that exist before a hazard occurs and the expected level of resulting loss. The CSIR Green Book has developed a physical vulnerability index that is measured on a scale from 1 (low vulnerability) to 10 (high vulnerability). The map below shows the physical vulnerability score of each municipality in the province visually.

Figure: Physical vulnerability per local municipality in Free State (Le Roux, van Huyssteen, et al. 2019)

Economic Vulnerability

Economic vulnerability describes the potential risks posed by hazards on economic assets and processes. Potential hazards can include job losses, increased poverty and interruptions in business activities. The CSIR Green Book has developed an economic vulnerability index that is measured on a scale from 1 (low vulnerability) to 10 (high vulnerability). The map below shows the economic vulnerability score of each municipality in the province visually.

Figure: Economic vulnerability per local municipality in Free State (Le Roux, van Huyssteen, et al. 2019)

References