It is time for South Africans to take climate change seriously, said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday in his response to the debate on his State of the Nation Address.
He said if South Africa is a country that prioritises the interests of the poor and the vulnerable, then we need to act with greater urgency to respond to the effects of climate change and make our contribution to preventing it.
"The rural poor are most affected by the droughts that have become more frequent and which last longer," he said.
"The urban poor is most affected by the impact this has on food prices and the availability of water.
"It is people who live in informal settlements who are most affected by the flooding that accompanies the increasingly extreme weather conditions."
He said we are all affected in different ways by the environmental changes taking place on land, in our oceans and in the air.
"Unless we tackle climate change, we will not be able to meet our developmental objectives."
He said South Africa ratified the Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change as part of the global effort to dramatically reduce the rate of global warming.