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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dewberry Seeks a Climate Change Strategist

Climate Change Strategist
Tracking Code

Job Description

Works on climate change consulting projects for federal, state, and local governmental agency clients, with emphasis on assessing impacts of climate change on extreme weather events and natural disasters and developing adaptation strategies. Supports assessment of market opportunities and development of business strategies related to climate change. Helps company build a growing climate change consulting services practice.

  • Works on climate change consulting projects for federal, state, and local government agency clients, with emphasis on impacts of climate change on extreme weather events and natural disasters. The scope of these projects typically entails one or more of the following: 1) analyzing/assessing the potential effects, impacts, and consequences of climate change on the built environment and natural ecosystems (especially related to impacts on natural disasters); and 2) developing and evaluating adaption and disaster response strategies to respond to the associated risks.
  • Writing reports and other documents for, and making formal and informal presentations to, both technical and lay audiences.
  • Works with corporate Marketing to prepare marketing content and materials (e.g., web content, brochures, conference displays, etc.) related to the climate change service line.
  • Networks in climate change field, including participating and presenting at relevant stakeholder associations and conferences and meeting with potential clients and business partners.
  • Acts as an internal consultant and analyst on a range of projects related to natural hazard identification, risk assessment, mitigation, and disaster response.
  • Analyzes climate change market opportunities and recommends business strategies to Senior Management.

Required Experience

  • An MS degree (or higher) in climatology, meteorology, atmospheric science, environmental science, or related field.
  • 10+ years of experience in performing studies related to climate, climate change, and/or extreme weather events.
  • Demonstrated strong working knowledge and understanding of climate change science, including IPCC, CCSP, and other research and studies, as well as state and Federal laws, regulations, and policies related to climate change.
  • Strong skills in statistical analyses
  • High level of interpersonal skills – position requires demonstrated poise, tact and diplomacy.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including demonstrated ability to: 1) produce written technical documents for technical and lay audiences; and 2) make formal and informal presentations to technical and lay audiences
  • Ability to cross-train staff to move the company to the leading edge of the climate change market.
  • Proficiency in MS Office applications, including MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook.

Job Location - Fairfax, VA, US
Position Type - Full-Time/Regular

Application information available here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Igniting Change in Local Government

I, and several co-authors, recently published a paper summarising our experiences working with local government stakeholders in Sydney, Australia on climate change vulnerability assessment. The abstract from the paper, appearing in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, is below:

Abstract Local governments and communities have a critical role to play in adapting to climate variability and change. Spatial vulnerability assessment is one tool that can facilitate engagement between researchers and local stakeholders through the visualisation of climate vulnerability and the integration of its biophysical and socio-economic determinants. This has been demonstrated through a case study from Sydney, Australia where a bushfire vulnerability assessment was undertaken as the first-step in a project to investigate local government perceptions of climate vulnerability and adaptive capacity. A series of relevant biophysical and socio-economic indicators was identified that represented the region’s exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity with respect to bushfires. These indicators were then combined to develop maps of net landscape vulnerability to bushfire. When presented in a workshop setting, vulnerability maps were successful in capturing the attention of stakeholders while simultaneously conveying information regarding the diversity of drivers that can contribute to current and future vulnerability. However, stakeholders were reluctant to embrace representations of vulnerability that differed from their own understanding of hazard, necessitating the demonstration of agreement between the vulnerability assessment and more conventional hazard assessment tools. This validation opened the door for public dissemination of vulnerability maps, the uptake and use of the assessment in local government risk assessment and adaptation planning, and more focused case-studies on barriers to adaptation.

Keywords Climate change . Adaptive capacity . Vulnerability assessment . Stakeholder engagement . Bushfire

Annual Global Temperature Report

The World Meteorological Organisation has made its annual announcement regarding global mean temperature trends:

Geneva, 16 December 2008 (WMO) – The year 2008 is likely to rank as the 10th warmest year on record since the beginning of the instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea-surface and land-surface air temperature for 2008 is currently estimated at 0.31°C/0.56°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The global average temperature in 2008 was slightly lower than that for the previous years of the 21st century due in particular, to the moderate to strong La NiƱa that developed in the latter half of 2007.

Real Climate has posted its amusing take on the avalanche of media coverage, spin and misinformation that is likely to ensue.
The great thing about complex data is that one can basically come up with any number of headlines describing it - all of which can be literally true - but that give very different impressions. Thus we are sure that you will soon read that 2008 was warmer than any year in the 20th Century (with the exception of 1998), that is was the coolest year this century (starting from 2001), and that 7 or 8 of the 9 warmest years have occurred since 2000. There will undoubtedly also be a number of claims made that aren't true; 2008 is not the coolest year this decade (that was 2000), global warming hasn't 'stopped', CO2 continues to be a greenhouse gas, and such variability is indeed predicted by climate models.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wanted: Coastal Management Specialist

I.M. Systems Group, Inc. (IMSG) ( is looking for a motivated individual to join our team at the NOAA Coastal Services Center (CSC) (, a federal facility in Charleston, South Carolina. The NOAA CSC serves the nation’s state coastal programs and others concerned with coastal zone issues and management by providing them with information, services, and technology.

This position will support the CSC’s Coastal Learning Services (CLS) program. CLS serves the nation's coastal resource managers through training workshops, professional conferences, and meeting support services. The program also provides a wide range of related consulting services on topics that include instructional design, follow up technical support on implementing skills learned via course work, and facilitation. This exciting position will help foster sustainable, cutting edge coastal community development practices by training coastal professionals and decision-makers.


  • Serves as climate adaptation, land-use and/or community resilience planning consultant, providing technical assistance for state and local coastal management practitioners and other CSC partners
  • Provides training in the areas of adaptation to climate change, land-use planning, and/or community resilience planning and related areas
  • Designs and develops new training based on CSC customer needs, conducts appropriate needs assessments
  • Develops learning networks of coastal professionals focused on climate adaptation.
    Monitors climate adaptation developing trends and best practices.


  • MS in urban or regional planning or related field, and a minimum two years directly related experience; planning certification a plus
  • Demonstrated knowledge and skills in community adaptation to climate change, land-use planning, smart growth principles, and/or coastal community resilience to hazards
  • Ability to design and deliver effective learning activities for the coastal management community; knowledge of instructional design and training methodologies for adult learners a plus
  • Excellent oral and presentation skills
  • Ability to develop and engage learning networks
  • Experience with web-based or other distance learning a plus

To Apply:
Applicants should email their resume and salary requirements to with the following subject line: CSC08004 - Coastal Climate Change Specialist.
IMSG is an equal opportunity employer.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Debate on Arrangements for Adaptation Financing Continues

The race to get the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) up and running by early 2009 is on. The AFB, currently administered by the World Bank, was created to provide funding for adaptation through the sales of carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism. In Poznan, Tuvalu submitted a proposal to grant the AFB its own legal status, but it remains to be seen whether other nations will accept this proposal.

The urgency of building a robust funding mechanism for adaptation is underpinned by frequent UN estimates of the costs of adaptation, the latest estimate being $130 billion per year by 2030 (put forth by Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer). However, it is unclear the extent to which such estimates represent the costs of adaptation to climate change versus the costs of achieving UN development goals. If the latter, then climate adaptation simply becomes another vehicle for securing traditional overseas development assistance (ODA). Given the failure of many developed nations (such as the US) to fulfill their existing obligations with respect to ODA, it is difficult to find fault with attempts to hitch the development wagon to climate change. In any case, with current funding for the AFB sitting at only $21 billion, it would seem that the institution is inadequate for any of the tasks with which it is charged.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Adaptation Challenges in California

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a study of adaptation challenges and barriers in California, focused on six key sectors - water resources, electricity, coastal resources, air quality, public health, and ecosystem resources. The report identifies six key tasks for the state as it moves forward with the development a climate change adaptation strategy:

    • Improve the basic science on climate impacts, particularly at the regional and local levels.
    • Help frontline actors, such as city and county governments, interpret the science and determine which levels of climate risks to plan for, over which time frames.
    • Determine where early actions are needed—when a failure to act now will result in much greater cost or reduce future flexibility. These areas currently include infrastructure investment and habitat protection.
    • Refine existing adaptation tools and experiment with new ones.
    • Strengthen the incentives for coordinated action at the regional level and seek federal cooperation.
    • Make legal and regulatory adjustments to facilitate adaptation.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Adaptation Myth

Robert Repetto of Yale University has authored a proactive new report that argues that adaptation to the "climate crisis" is a myth. In building his argument, he juxtaposes the standard assumptions about high adaptive capacity in the developed world with some of the natural hazard management failures that have occurred despite such capacity: hurricanes, flood management, water resources management. His conclusion: the state of adaptation planning and implementation is underwhelming, particularly given that climate change has been on the radar for decades. Furthermore, the generally optimistic assumptions about the adaptive capacity of developed nations are overly optimistic.

On one hand, this argument is self-evident. There are copious examples of poor environmental risk management to draw from, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. Meanwhile there are few quality examples where long-term strategic actions have been implemented in anticipation of future climate change. On the other hand, we know that adaptation is, in fact, occurring - it always has been (e.g., this report from the OECD or this one from the Heinz Center). Human beings are nothing if not adaptive, and in some cases, that adaptation can occur very quickly (although the standard paradigm would seem to be one of reactive adaptation after the fact). An interesting question, therefore, is how to reconcile these seemingly opposing perspectives, both of which appear to be valid.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Melbourne Continues to Dodge Stage 4

Melbourne's water supplies suffered a bit of a setback this spring, with insufficient rainfall to top-up the dwindling reservoirs and the long hot summer soon to arrive. At present, storages are at just 34% of capacity. Nevertheless, the city manages to discover new and interesting mechanisms to avoid implementing Stage 4 water restrictions, which should kick-in when storage levels reach 29.3% of capacity. As Stage 4 would mean no one could fill-up his swimming pool or water her garden (or footy field!!!), it's a safe bet the the Victoria government will continue to innovate solutions. First there was the development of "Stage 3a" restrictions - presumably something between Stage 3 and 4 - which have been in effect since April 2007. Now we have Target 155 - a voluntary bid to limit household per capita water consumption to 155 litres per day. This follows on successful bids in both Brisbane and Bendigo to curtail household water consumption (although one should not that those reductions came in conjunction with Stage 5 and Stage 4 water restrictions, respectively). So Melbourne continues to avoid bringing in Stage 4, but one must wonder whether the city would have been better off if it had pushed ahead with Stage 4 restrictions back in 2007. Hoping for rain around the corner no longer appears to be a robust management strategy, and it will still be sometime before the proposed desalination plan is up and running.

This is Not Adaptation (Or is It)?

Venice, a city well known for periodic flooding, has outdone even itself, with the most recent acqua alta ranking as the fourth highest tide since 1872. The inevitable prospect of more frequent and more extreme flooding in a changing climate does not necessarily bode well for the city (unless it goes the way of Seattle and simply abandons its ground floors). On the other hand, by now the city appears to be prepared to cope with such events by simply taking it on the chin. There's a flood warning system not to mention the now infamous raised wooden platforms that allow people to remain high and dry (although in this situation the flood water were apparently too high for even this management technique). It seems that getting one's feet wet may soon become an unavoidable aspect of a romantic trip to Venice, but not if the £3.7 billion Moses Flood Barrier currently under construction has anything to say about it. Should that project be completed (rumour has it that it's short of funds) and proves successful, it will certainly rank as an impressive technical solution to a problem centuries in the making.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Planning for Climate Change in Sea Change Communities

Australia's National Sea Change Task Force has released a study examining the planning dimensions of climate change for coastal communities. The report compares "best" and "current" Australia practice with respect to coastal management and planning, leading to the following recommendations in pursuit of sustainability:

    1. That all State and territorial planning authorities enact high level planning policy to "mainstream" climate change mitigation and adaptation considerations in all coastal planning decisions, to ensure long term liveability and adaptability for coastal communities;
    2. That in response to climate change, local councils undertake an initial vulnerability assessment.
    3. That a formal climate change vulnerability assessment be undertaken at regional or local scales to support strategic land use planning decisions and significant development assessment in coastal amenity areas.
    4. That carbon impact of future land use or development forms must become an explicit consideration in all strategic land use planning and development assessment processes in coastal areas.
    5. That in any adaptive response to climate change, consideration be given to the possible "equity" issues that may arise as a result of financial (eg. pricing policy) or regulatory (eg. building codes), and the differential impacts for particular members of coastal communities that may be particularly vulnerable to pricing or regulatory
    6. That a mechanism be established to encourage and enable collaboration between neighbouring local councils in responding to climate change.
    7. That Federal and State governments support local councils in building expertise and in undertaking the necessary vulnerability assessments and adaptation planning work with dedicated funding and data resources.
    8. That further research on understanding and responding to social vulnerability to
      climate change impacts be undertaken, with priority assistance given to coastal areas where physical exposure, socio-economic disadvantage, and population instability coincide.
    9. That an intergovernmental agreement involving all three levels of government be developed to clearly state the commitments and responsibilities of Federal, State and Local Government in planning for climate change.

Adaptation in Central Europe

The Southeast European (SEE) Climate Change Framework Action Plan for Adaptation was launched last week in Sarajevo by the environmental ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia acting under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) and the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC).

"The five countries agreed to implement systematic observation, improve data
exchange, develop climate change scenarios, produce climate change risk maps, establish national early warning systems against harmful effects of weather variables to human health, construct irrigation systems in drought prone areas, rehabilitate the existing and construct new flood protection and drainage systems."

California Climate Risk and Response

A new report by Fredrich Kahrl and David Roland-Holst at the University of California-Berkeley attempts to put a value on the annual economic damages to the State of California, arriving at a figure of 7.3 to 46.6 billion/year.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Climate and Australia's Infrastructure

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering has published a study of the impacts of climate change on Australia's infrastructure entitled Assessment of Impacts of Climate Change on Australia's Physical Infrastructure (see also this report from 2007 on climate impacts to infrastructure in Victoria). One of the key conclusions noted in the Executive Summary states:

...there is an urgent need to establish national guidelines for the evaluation, design and planning of infrastructure subject to the effects of climate change. These guidelines would represent appropriate policy solutions to climate change adaptation by considering the expected consequences of climate change and would be assessed within a risk assessment framework. Due consideration should be given to financial, legal, social, environmental and emergency management matters.

In addition, the report notes other barriers to adaptation including the lack of professionals with appropriate training to facilitate climate risk assessments and the design of appropriate adaptation strategies. Furthermore, the study acknowledges that adaptation "may require intervention by Government to ensure that planning is fully integrated."

GEF Strategic Priority on Adaptation

For the Global Environmental Facility's Council Meeting on the 11-13th of this month, the GEF has prepared a report on the completion of its Strategic Priority on Adaptation. This pilot project provided $50 million to help fund adaptation in the developing world - the first major investment by GEF directly in the adaptation arena. According the the report, the pool of funds has now been fully allocated and the funded adaptation projects have been initiated. However, those projects are still in the early stages of implementation. Therefore, future work remains in seeing these projects through and evaluating their performance. Nevertheless, the report also comments that there continues to be strong demand for such GEF-funded adaptation programs and projects.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ACF Report on Australia's "Special Places"

The Australian Conservation Foundation has released a new report which puts a new spin on the traditional review of climate change impacts. Saving Australia's Special Places offers a tour of Australia's iconic landscapes (including the traditional "Aussie Backyard" and the potential fate of these icons in a changing climate.

Management of Forest Lands

The Defenders of Wildlife have released a new report discussing the implications of climate change for the management of forest lands in the United States.

From the Executive Summary:

"Strategies for conserving biological diversity will need to be modified to incorporate consideration of climate change, such as reconsidering which species may be of greatest concern, or size, number, and location of protected areas. However, most of what needs to be done soon is what we’ve known we need to do for a long time: reducing habitat fragmentation, increasing populations of at-risk species, and controlling invasive species. Conservation strategies need to recognize that species can be expected to move and adapt independently as climate changes, and that novel ecosystems will arise."

Consortium for Capacity Building

After the demise of the National Center for Atmospheric Research's programs to address the vulnerability of communities to climate variability and change from the bottom-up, the University of Colorado has announced that it intends to pick-up the Consortium for Capacity Building with assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation.

Climate Crime?

This recent article in Melbourne's The Age speculates on the new avenues of crime that are opening up within the climate change industry. The article is based upon a recent special report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled The thin green line: Climate change and Australian policing. From heat-induced outbreaks of crime to dodgy dealings in carbon trading and offsets to responses to natural disasters, the report argues that the law enforcement sector is just one of many that will have to get on board the climate adaptation bandwagon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Australia Announces Adaptation Research Networks

The Australian Department of Climate Change has announced seven adaptation research networks that will be part of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility:

  • Terrestrial Biodiversity -James Cook University -$400,000 per year
  • Water Resources and Freshwater Biodiversity -Griffith University -$400,000 per year
  • Marine Biodiversity and Resources -University of Tasmania -$400,000 per year
  • Settlements and Infrastructure -University of NSW -$447,000 per year
  • Disaster Management and Emergency Services -RMIT University -$205,000 per year
  • Social, Economic and Institutional Dimensions -University of Melbourne -$376,000 per year
  • Health -Australian National University -$240,000 per year

The networks were developed to foster an inclusive collaborative research environment, through:

  • Open exchange of information and sharing of resources.
  • Contributing to the work of the Facility in synthesising existing and emerging research and in developing National Adaptation Research Plans.
  • Contributing to the implementation of National Adaptation Research Plans, by assisting the Facility in the establishment of research teams.
  • Nurturing the careers of young investigators and research students by promoting a sense of community, collaboration and strong, effective mentoring, and encouraging them to shape the future direction of the research fields.

California Department of Water Resources has released a new report entitled, Managing an Uncertain Future; Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for California's Water. The report identifies 10 adaptation strategies for the state's water managers to cope with a changing climate. Overall, these strategies reflect broad themes of action as opposed to specific policies and measures, so it appears that considerable work will be required for these to be operationalised to reduce the sector's vulnerability:

  • Strategy 1: Provide Sustainable Funding for Statewide and
    Integrated Regional W ater Management
  • Strategy 2: Fully Develop the Potential of Integrated Regional Water
  • Strategy 3: Aggressively Increase Water Use Efficiency
  • Strategy 4: Practice and Promote Integrated Flood Management
  • Strategy 5: Enhance and Sustain Ecosystems
  • Strategy 6: Expand Water Storage and Conjunctive Management of
    Surface and Groundwater Resources
  • Strategy 7: Fix Delta Water Supply, Quality and Ecosystem Conditions
  • Strategy 9: Plan for and Adapt to Sea Level Rise
  • Strategy 10: Identify and Fund Focused Climate Change Impacts and
    Adaptation Research and Analysis

Economics of Australian Drought Relief

As part of the ongoing Australian Government inquiry into the drought assistance policy, the Productivity Commission has released a draft report on the economics of drought assistance in Australia (see this prior post on the review of the science of drought).

Key points
Many Australian farmers and rural communities are experiencing hardship as a result of a severe and prolonged drought. While this is not new to dryland farming, the ‘irrigation drought’ is uncharted territory.
Australia has always had a variable climate, with drought being a recurring feature. Looking to the future, most agricultural regions need to prepare for higher temperatures and for some, more frequent periods of exceptionally low rainfall.
Most farmers are sufficiently self-reliant to manage climate variability.

– In 2007-08, 20 per cent of Australia’s 150 000 farms received drought assistance, totalling over $1 billion, with some on income support continuously since 2002.
– Even in drought declared areas, most farmers manage without assistance. For instance, from 2002-03 to 2006-07, on average, more than 70 per cent of dairy
and broadacre farms in drought areas received no drought assistance.
All governments agree that the current approaches to drought and Exceptional Circumstance (EC) declarations are no longer the most appropriate in the context of a changing climate. In marked contrast to the policy objectives, current drought assistance programs are not focussed on helping farmers improve self-reliance, preparedness and climate change management.
EC Interest rate subsidies and state-based transport subsidies are ineffective, canperversely encourage poor management practices, and should not extend beyond 2009-2010.
EC household relief payments are limited to those in drought declared areas.
– All farm households in hardship should have access to temporary income support designed for farming circumstances, after which the standard community safety net should apply.
The EC declaration process is inequitable and unnecessary. It should
not be extended to new areas and existing declarations should terminate by the end of 2009-2010.
The National Drought Policy should be replaced with expanded objectives for Australia’s Farming Future. These would recognise that the primary responsibility for managing risks, including from climate variability and change, rests with farmers —underpinned by more appropriate forms of government support.
Research, development, extension, professional advice and training to improve business management skills can help build farmers’ self-reliance and preparedness.
– These areas warrant significant government funding provided they are well targeted, area appropriate and deliver a demonstrable community benefit.
Farm Management Deposits, despite their use for tax deferral, have encouraged farmers to save and to be more self reliant, and should be retained.
Policies relating to water, natural resource management and climate change all impact on farm businesses and local communities and need to be better integrated.

Mike Edwards has an interesting post on globalisation, poverty and climate vulnerability at Reuters Foundation's Climate Change Blog. The following is a snippet:

"The poverty-vulnerability linkage makes me think about Australia and
the current situation faced by Aboriginal Australians. For 40,000 years,
Aboriginal Australians have managed to sustain a truly unique, thriving and rich
culture on one of the most inhospitable continents on Earth. Aboriginal people
have experienced extremes in weather and climate, and have adapted successfully
to these changes. Just over 200 years ago, the continent was invaded by the
British and, since then, most Aboriginal people have been assimilated into a
culture that is alien to them and has forced many into conditions of poverty.
Those people who were, in the past, some of the most adaptive people to changes
in climate now rank among the most vulnerable. The wonders of development,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Climate & Disaster Governance

The Institute of Development Studies and Christian Aid have launched a new research program examining governance for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction in the context of development.

"A detailed understanding of local politics, power relations and resources is required to ensure that international funds and policy frameworks are accessed by the most vulnerable groups. To address this CDG begins by focusing its research on the role of accountability and citizen engagement through mechanisms such as multi-stakeholder forums and of social protection policy instruments such as micro-insurance schemes. Research is also assessing opportunities and barriers to effective responses in fragile states, where some of the people most vulnerable to climate impacts reside."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan

The State of Florida's Action Team on Energy and Climate Change has released its final report entitled, Florida’s Energy and Climate Change Action Plan. As is often the case, the report is heavily biased toward mitigation, with adaptation only being addressed in the final chapter. This is a bit surprising given that Florida is probably one of the states most vulnerable to climate variability and change, particularly sea-level rise. Many of the near-term adaptation actions relate to research or the preparation of additional plans and guidelines for adaptation policies and measures. Effectively, its hard to interpret this as anything other than, "we know adaptation is important, but we haven't figured out what to do as of yet, because we've spent all our time thinking about mitigation."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

'Real Options' and Adaptation

Leo Dobes at the Crawford School, the Australian National University has pointed me to his article, Getting Real about Adapting to Climate Change: Using ‘Real Options’ to Address the Uncertainties.

Scientists predict that some climate change is already inevitable, even if greenhouse emissions are stabilised. Adaptation strategies will be of comparable importance to reducing emissions. However, the specific effects of climate change are currently unknowable, especially at the local level. Given this uncertainty, deterministic adaptation strategies are inappropriate. Rather than building ‘worst-case scenario’ sea walls, for example, strong foundations can be laid — so that walls can be built (or not built) in future to match actual climatic conditions without incurring unnecessary upfront expense. Other examples of such ‘real options’ are provided to illustrate the feasibility of the approach.

India Rejects Climate Investment Funds

India has apparently refused to participate in the World Bank's Climate Investment Funds, which have been developed to assist in funding climate adaptation in the developing world. India seems to take exception to the entire concept of adaptation funds being made available as traditional development assistance (particularly loans) rather than through the direct transfer of funds. Instead, India has argued for an adaptation fund to be administered directly by the UNFCCC. The question now is whether India will have to go it alone in making a stand on principle, or whether other nations will also ultimately reject this funding mechanism.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Climate Change & Water in Colorado

The Colorado Water Conservation Board has released a new report, Climate Change in Colorado: A Synthesis to Support Water Resources Management and Adaptation, which provides a scientific assessment of climate change and preliminary discussion of its implications for the state's water resources. While the report has "adaptation" in its title, the report doesn't actually cover the issue other than to state that vulnerability assessments are required to inform adaptation planning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

US EPA Rleases Final Water Strategy

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has released it's national water strategy for responding to climate change:

This National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change provides
an overview of the likely effects of climate change on water resources and
the Nation’s clean water and safe drinking water programs. It also describes
specific actions the National Water Program intends to take to adapt program
implementation in light of climate change.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

To What Climate are We Adapting?

Mike Hulme of the Tyndall Centre recently wrote this interesting piece on the challenging choices we face with respect to using climate information for adaptation planning. Hulme poses the following question:

How do we prepare the 2012 London Olympics to be well adapted to British summer climate?

  • Do we take a 2050 climate change scenario - heatwaves, droughts and all - and assume this will best describe the summer of 2012?
  • Do we use one of the new experimental decadal forecasts that suggests we may see little warming and maybe wetter summers over the next decade?
  • Or do we make sure that the Olympics are prepared to cope with whatever the summer of 2012 turns out like - whether the blazing heat of 1995 or the gloom of 2008?

Clearly, there is only one robust answer, which given the time invested in developing the latest generation of the UK's climate change scenarios (the now delayed "UKCIP08" projections, which suppose will have to be renamed), should give us pause. There is a persistent disconnect in the climate change community between climate scientists that are compelled to seek "better" projections of climate change and those tasked with managing the consequences who (occasionally) know that we still can't predict the future.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Garnaut Final Report

Ross Garnaut has released the final report of the Garnaut Review. The bottom line with respect to emissions targets is as follows:

Australia should indicate at an early date its preparedness to play its
full, proportionate part in an effective global agreement that ‘adds up’ to
either a 450 or a 550 emissions concentrations scenario, or to a corresponding
point between. Australia’s full part for 2020 in a 450 scenario would be a
reduction of 25 per cent in emissions entitlements from 2000 levels, or
one-third from Kyoto compliance levels over 2008–12, or 40 per cent per capita
from 2000 levels. For 2050, reductions would be 90 per cent from 2000 levels (95
per cent per capita).

Australia’s full part for 2020 in a 550 scenario would be a reduction
in entitlements of 10 per cent from 2000 levels, or 17 per cent from Kyoto
compliance levels over 2008–12, or 30 per cent per capita from 2000. For 2050,
reductions would be 80 per cent per capita from 2000 levels or 90 per cent per

If there is no comprehensive global agreement at Copenhagen in 2009, Australia, in the context of an agreement amongst developed countries only, should commit to reduce its emissions by 5 per cent (25 per cent per capita) from 2000 levels by 2020, or 13 per cent from the Kyoto compliance 2008–12 period.

Effectively, this recommends for a deferment on any decision on a target until after Copenhagen. Nevertheless, the costs associated with any of these different emissions trajectories are argued to be justified under a range of policy arguments (largely associated with the long-term damages of unmitigated climate change vs. the costs of mitigation).

The report also discusses the role of adaptation measures in addressing climate impacts, but does so from a fairly narrow perspective. While arguing for a local, bottom-up approach to adaptation, the report seems to overlook issues of adaptive capacity (the phrase doesn't even appear in the relevant chapter) and the role of social vulnerability in driving adverse climate outcomes. Instead, the report largely expresses adaptation in terms of technical fixes, infrastructure upgrades, and policy adjustments to influence water and food markets. But then, it's fairly clear that the Garnaut Review was never about comprehensive approaches to reducing the risks of climate change.

Climate Impacts in Europe

The European Environment Agency has released a new report entitled, Impacts of Europe's changing climate - 2008 indicator-based assessment. An update to the 2004 report, this one makes use of 40 different indicators to track the effects of climate change (although, many of these indicators are rather traditional climate variables) and provides projections of future impacts. The report closes with a call for adaptation and research to address a range of knowledge gaps.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Funds Pledged for Climate Change

Ten countries (Australia, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have collectively pledged $6.1 billion in assistance to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation efforts. The funds will be channeled through the Climate Investment Funds administered by the World Bank.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vulnerability and Adaptation in Sydney (part 2)

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG), Australia has released another report as part of its project investigating climate change vulnerability and adaptive capacity in the region. This new report summarises the outcomes from 15 workshops conducted with SCCG member local governments and identifies a broad range of barriers and opportunities at the local government level with respect to adapting to climate vulnerability and change. The report goes on to make a number of recommendations for capitalising on these opportunities and breaking down barriers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

In the Journals (July 2008)

Climatic Change

*Special Topic - Learning & Global Climate Change

In the Journals (August 2008)

Climatic Change

*Special Topic - The Stern Review Debate

Climate Research

1) Influence of climate change on agricultural land-use potential: adapting and updating the land capability system for Scotland

2) REVIEW: Climate change in the uplands: a UK perspective on safeguarding regulatory ecosystem services

Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

1) Topical scientific and practical issues of wildland fire problem

2) Methodology for identifying vulnerability hotspots to tropical cyclone hazard in India

3) A discussion of the potential impacts of climate change on the shorelines of the Northeastern USA

In the Journals (June 2008)

Climate Research

1) Heterogeneous intra-annual climatic change drive different phonological responses at two trophic levels

2) Simulated effects of climate change, fragmentation, and inter-specific competition on tree species migration in northern Wisconsin, USA

3) Sensitivity of the snow energy balance to climatic changes: prediction of snowpack in the Pyrenees in the 21st century

4) Forecasting water allocations for Bundaberg sugarcane farmers

5) Fluctuations of winter wheat yields in relation to length of winter in Sweden 1866 to 2006

6) Influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Mediterranean deep-sea shrimp landings

7) Frameworks for analysing the economic effects of climate change on outdoor recreation

Mitigation and Adaptation Options for Global Change

*Special Issue: Assessment of Climate Change, Impacts, and Solutions in the Northeast United States

Queensland Seeks Comments on its Climate Strategy

The Queensland Government has released an "Issues Paper" that,

"seeks feedback on the effectiveness of existing measures, the issues relevant
to our major sectors and possible measures to mitigate greenhouse as emissions
and adapt to climate change

The report summarises the policies that are on the table to address both greenhouse gas emissions reductions as well as adaptation. However, the only apparent feedback pathway is through submission of comments via mail or email, and, as usual, there's no way of knowing how those submissions will be incorporated into the development of future policy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adaptation Board

The third meeting of the UNFCCC's Adaptation Fund Board is currently underway in Bonn.

Adaptation in The Financial Times

The Financial Times ran this article this week, which provides a nice primer on the subject of climate adaptation and highlights the public confusion over the distinction between adaptation and mitigation, uncertainty in the costs of adaptation, and the implications of planned vs. autonomous adaptation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Australian Farmers' Perceptions of Climate Risk

A new report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Farm Management and Climate, provides insights into how Australia's farmers perceive the changing climate as well as their responses:

"Nationally, 65.6% of agricultural businesses reported that they considered the climate affecting their holding has changed and 62.4% reported that the perceived change in climate had an impact on their holding. Approximately half (49.5%) of agricultural businesses reported a change in the management practices on their holding in response to perceived changes in climate.

The most commonly reported perceived change in climate affecting the holding was a change in rainfall patterns (92.1%), followed by more extreme weather events (74.2%) and warmer temperatures (49.6%)."

"The Economist" on Climate Adaptation

An article in this month's edition of The Economist reviews the issue of climate change adaptation, highlighting the fact that it has finally gained a level of respectability among a broad range of interests. However, the costs of adaptation will have to be paid by someone, and so far there is no clear framework by which international needs will be met.

Britain Pledges Climate Aid to Bangladesh

Douglas Alexander, the UK's International Development Secretary today announced a new partnership to Bangladesh that will provide £75 million to assist in adaptation efforts to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Given the persistent vulnerability of Bangladesh to climate variability in the present day, it's probably more accurate to state that the funds represent development and natural disaster management assistance. However, as is often the case with the developing world, addressing such current, acute vulnerability is a limiting step in preparing nations for future climate change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lloyd's Report on Coastal Communities

Lloyd's has released a new report as part of its 360 Risk series that provides an insurer's perspective on the risks that climate change poses to coastal communities. The report examines a number of case studies spanning developed and developing nation perspectives assuming a range of defences and climate scenarios. The report's Executive Summary provides six key lessons:

  1. If no action is taken, losses from coastal flooding for high risk properties could double by 2030 Therefore, adaptation is vital. While mitigation through reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the only effective way to turn the tide of climate change, adaptation is vital given the potential future rate of climate change.

  2. With an effective adaptation strategy, future losses can be reduced to below present day levels In almost every case study in our report, adaptation would reduce losses resulting from climate change in the 2030s to less than the present day. The losses for high-risk properties could be reduced by 70% through using flood defences together with flood resilient and flood resistant measures.

  3. The insurance industry can encourage adaptation by policyholders through incentivisation Governments and insurers can play a key role by providing further financial incentives for adaptation; for instance, they can set policy premiums at a level that more closely reflects the risk to which individual properties are exposed. If adaptation measures are not implemented, insurance will become more expensive and less available.

  4. Locations and circumstances There is no single solution for managing coastal flood risk for all future situations or eventualities. Society will need to be flexible enough to take account of the uncertainties surrounding the consequences of climate change.

  5. Currently, poor land use policy and increasing urbanisation are key drivers of rising flood risk Climate change adaptation measures must therefore take account of other factors that affect flood risk in coastal areas, such as planning policies.

  6. The world cannot insure its way out of climate change Insurance is an effective way of managing individual risk that cannot be dealt with by adaptation. Adaptation and effective risk-informed development planning are the only means of reducing total risk.

Collectively, these conclusions highlight the potential benefits of adaptation as well as the fact that human agency, not just climate change, is a major component of rising social vulnerability in a changing climate.

Friday, September 5, 2008

New Zealand Climate Adapatation Initiative

New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology have announced a partnership to fund climate change research and adaptation efforts. The partnership represents the second phase of research under the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Plan of Action. The total amount of funds available to fund research is approximately $3.038m for short-term projects and $8.887 in medium-term projects and programmes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Garnaut Review Releases Supplementary Report

The Garnaut Review has completed work on a draft supplemental report outlining recommended targets and timetables for greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The report generally supports Australia's long-term target of 60% emissions reductions (relative to 2000) by 2050, but proposes an interim target of a 5-10% reduction by 2020 (depending on how far the international community is willing to go). Undoubtedly, many in the environmental community will find this to be inadequate, but to his credit Garnaut acknowledges the significant difficulties that exist with respect to getting international agreement on significant near-term targets:

"It is not realistic to expect that the international community would, in
the few years immediately ahead, agree on the even tighter emissions
containments and reductions consistent with a 450 world."

As such, Garnaut argues that stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at 550 ppm would be a significant accomplishment, although Australia should continue to push for more stringent cuts.

The report also looks at the question of the costs and benefits of mitigation and finds that Australia will suffer a modest cost in its pursuit of a 550 ppm target over the next half century, but this cost will be recovered in the latter half of the century due to avoided climate damages and other economic benefits.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

London's Adaptation Strategy

The City of London has released its draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. While news reports claimed it was a "world first" product, the broad range of adaptation strategies documented here just over the past few months demonstrates that such claims are perhaps a bit of an over-statement.

Nevertheless, the report does identify and discuss a number of key risks to the city and presents a range of potential options for adaptation. However, as if often the case, little mention is made of the city's current and future capacity and resources to implement such adaptation options and the various barriers that may exist.

Maryland Release Climate Change Action Plan

The State of Maryland has released its Climate Change Action Plan, which outlines its proposed activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the state's vulnerability to climate change. With respect to adaptation, the report emphasises the importance of sea-level rise and coastal storms and includes proposed strategies for addressing a range of key issues:

  1. Reduction of Impact to Existing and Future Growth
  2. Financial and Economic Well-Being
  3. Protection of Human Health,
    Safety and Welfare
  4. Natural Resource Protection
  5. Adaptation and Response Toolbox
  6. Future Steps and Directions

African Climate Change Fellowship Program


"Applications are invited for the inaugural round of African Climate Change
Fellowships. The African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP) aims to
support African professionals, researchers and graduate students to undertake
activities that will enhance their capacities for advancing and applying
knowledge for climate change adaptation in Africa. The program is jointly
administered by the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training
(START), the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA) of the University of Dar es
Salaam and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), with financial support from
the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and the United
Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID)."

NYC Lauches Climate Change Task Force

The rapid roll-out of instutional arrangements to address climate change continues, with New York City's Mayor Bloomberg announcing the formation of a Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and the New York City Panel on Climate Change. . .

"The task force, which was one of the 127 initiatives proposed in PlaNYC, the City’s long-term sustainability plan, is made up of City and State agencies, authorities and private companies that operate, maintain, or control critical infrastructure in New York City. Advising the task force is a panel of experts from academic institutions and the legal, engineering, and insurance industries. These groups will begin the process of creating a coordinated plan to adapt our roads, bridges, and tunnels; mass-transit network; water and sewer systems; electric, gas, and steam production and distribution systems; telecommunication networks; and other critical infrastructure. This effort is one of the most comprehensive and inclusive strategies ever launched to secure a City’s critical infrastructure against the effects of climate change. The Rockefeller Foundation’s Climate Change Resilience program has awarded a $350,000 grant to fund the work of the Panel on Climate Change."

See also a 2008 report from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and Colombia University entitled: The NYC DEP Climate Change Program Assessment and Action Plan.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Climate Change Policy in the Asia/Pacific Region

Japan's Institute for Global Environmental Strategies has released its second white paper on climate change. Entitled Climate Change Policies in the Asia-Pacific: Re-uniting Climate Change and Sustainable Development, the report has four objectives:

  1. to feature the most important environmental policy agenda for the region in
    2008—a response to the challenges posed by climate change in Asia and the
  2. to broadly summarise the current climate change situation in Asia and identify
    emerging issues, and to review effective policy approaches that have been
    adopted in the region;
  3. to present a number of broad policy recommendations that will promote
    sustainable development focussing on climate friendly development for the region,
    drawing from IGES research programmes, where appropriate; and
  4. to identify the critical policy research agenda over the next decade for the region.

Wise Adaptation

Japan's Ministry of the Environment has prepared a report focused on the concept of "wise adaptation", which identifies a number of considerations deemed necessary for ensuring effective and efficient implementation of adaptation policies and measures. For example:

  1. Promotion of regional vulnerability assessments
  2. Monitoring, and adoption of early warning systems that utilize monitoring
  3. Utilization of a diverse range of options
  4. Utilization of both long-term and short-term perspectives
  5. Utilization of observation results, and introduction of adaptation measures that
    ensure a certain degree of clearance
  6. Mainstreaming of adaptation
  7. Effective and efficient realization of low-vulnerability “systems with flexible response
  8. Promotion of co-benefit-type adaptation
  9. Improvement of society-wide adaptive capacity by utilizing insurance and other
    economic systems
  10. Development of systems of cooperation and coalition with relevant organizations
  11. Promotion of voluntary initiatives through entities that allow for a detailed
    approach at the local site
  12. Development of human resources

Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Asian Cities

The World Bank has released a new report entitled Climate Resilient Cities: A Primer on Reducing Vulnerabilities to Climate Change Impacts and Strengthening Disaster Risk Management in East Asian Cities. According to the Executive Summary, the report has been prepared,

as a guide for local governments in the East Asia Region to better
understand the concepts and consequences of climate change; how climate change
consequences contribute to urban vulnerabilities; and what is being done by city
governments in East Asia and around the world to actively engage in learning,
capacity building, and capital investment programs for building sustainable,
resilient communities.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Health Impacts in Canada

Health Canada has released a new report on the health impacts of climate change entitled Human Health in a Changing Climate: A Canadian Assessment of Vulnerabilities and Adaptive Capacity. In addition to providing a comprehensive and up-to-date review of potential health implications (both direct and indirect), the report also discusses extensively the issues of adaptation and adaptive capacity. Digital copies of the report are available from Health Canada upon request.

Israel Recommends Climate Adaptation

A report prepared for the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection has been released that summarises potential impacts for the nation (to the sum of billions of shekels) and some preliminary recommendations for adaptation actions. However, as with many nations and regions around the world, "additional data will need to be collected to close knowledge gaps, and new policies will have to be developed which take account of the impacts of climate change."

The full report is available on-line for those with knowledge of Hebrew. For others, a brief summary of the report's contents is available here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Committee of Melbourne Releases its "FutureMap"

The Committee for Melbourne, a network of influential individuals and organisations, has released FutureMap 2030 - a guide for climate change adapation and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. While the report is rather vague with respect to its recommendations (i.e., lot's of "what" but not much "who", "where", "when", or "how"), it provides a fairly accessible overview of the issue for Melbourne (from science to impacts to adaptation and mitigation) and opportunities to address the potential risks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

New Reports on Climate Impacts in U.S. States

The University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research has released a series of reports outlining potential economic impacts of climate change to several U.S. states. The titles are a bit of a misnomer as the reports largely detail the size of climate-exposed economic sectors and qualitatively identify whether such sectors will be positively or negatively harmed. Some indicative projections of economic impacts arising from climate change are offered, but generally these reports don't provide comprehensive estimates of climate costs that could be used, say, for cost/benefit analysis of different climate policies.

State Economic and Environmental Costs of Climate Change

State Reports
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Colorado
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Georgia
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Illinois
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Kansas
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Michigan
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Nevada
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on New Jersey
Economic Impacts of Climate Change on Ohio

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Adaptation Website

The UK's Department for Food and Rural Affairs has launched a new website dedicated specifically to climate adaptation. The website provides information on the various dimensions of adaptation, from the basics of adaptation to actions being taken by the UK government and the adaptation measures specified in the UK's Climate Change Bill. In addition, the government's adaptation priorities are further outlined in a new report that was also released this month, Adapting to climate change in England: A framework for Action.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Climate Change in Uganda

OXFAM (UK) has released a report on observed impacts of climate change in Uganda, its liks to poverty and the efforts to implement adaptation measures through its National Adaptation Plan of Action.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

G8 and Adaptation

The 2008 G8 meeting in Hokkaido, Japan has yielded an array of seemingly progressive statements on climate change, including an agreement to pursue a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (relative to 1990). Naturally, the achievement of such reductions will be left up to the individual nations, so this doesn't necessarily mean much for future negotiations under the UNFCCC. As usual, greenhouse gas mitigation and energy efficiency received the lion's share of attention. However, the following paragraphs on adaptation did emerge:

29. Recognising the linkage between the potential impacts of climate change and development, mitigation and adaptation strategies should be pursued as part of development and poverty eradication efforts. A successful global response to climate change requires a partnership between developing and developed countries. Developing countries' efforts to put in place appropriate national mitigation and adaptation plans to build low carbon, climate resilient economies, should be supported by scaled up assistance from developed countries.

30. Recognising that poorer countries are among the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, we will continue and enhance cooperation with developing countries, in particular least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states, in their efforts to adapt to climate change including disaster risk reduction. To address this issue, we commit to support urgent actions to mainstream adaptation into broader development strategies and encourage developing countries themselves to integrate adaptation into their development policies. The early start of activities under the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund should make an important contribution in this respect. We call on the multilateral development banks and other development agencies to support countries in this endeavor.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

New Report on Adaptation Financing

The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies has released a report discussing international arrangement for financing adaptation in developing nations. The report outlines three key issues for adaptation financing:

Innovative Sourcing. Further innovative financing mechanisms apart from the CDM Adaptation Levy are needed to fill the adaptation ‘funding chasm.’ The only way to provide funding for developing country adaptation which is acceptable, in the above-mentioned sense, is through international levies on emissions from international maritime transport and aviation/air travel and/or through international auctioning of assigned amount units (i.e. an adaptation levy on the proceeds of international emissions trading).

Strategic Allocation. Internationally, funds for adaptation need to be allocated on a strategic basis and not involve international micro-management at the project level. The strategic allocation of international adaptation funds should not attempt to re-invent the wheel. It should use the existing international bodies and initiatives to allocate funding streams, and not try to duplicate them under a ‘climate change banner.’ Domestically, as mentioned above, there is a need to enhance ‘absorptive capacity’ not only at the project level, but more importantly – following the Paris Declaration − at the level of domestic policy (‘adaptation mainstreaming’).

Governance. The governance of the recently operationalised Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund represents a milestone in the evolution of international funding mechanisms, since for the first time developing countries have genuine ownership of such an instrument. In the case of adaptation funding, developing country
ownership and public transparency of decision making is not only desirable but a prerequisite for success, particularly in the context of mainstreaming activities. Given this, the Adaptation Fund should be the main instrument for the purpose of raising and managing of international adaptation finance for developing countries.

CSIRO and BOM Drought Review

The Australian Government has released the first phase of a three part review of the conditions under which drought assistance is provided accounting for both recent observed changes in climate as well as projected changes in the decades ahead. The research conducted by the CSIRO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology drew several conclusions about recent and future trends:

The analysis shows that the areal extent and frequency of exceptionally hot
years have been increasing rapidly over recent decades and this trend is
expected to continue. Further, over the past 40 years (1968-2007), exceptionally
hot years are typically occurring over 10-12% of the area in each region,
i.e. about twice the expected long term average of 5%. By 2010-2040, the mean area is likely to increase to 60-80%, with a low scenario of 40-60%, and a high scenario of 80-95%.

On average, exceptionally high temperatures are likely to occur every 1-2 years.
Observed trends in exceptionally low rainfall years are highly dependent on the period of analysis due to large variability between decades. If rainfall were the sole trigger for EC declarations, then the mean projections for 2010-2040 indicate that more declarations would be likely, and over larger areas, in the SW, SWWA and Vic&Tas regions, with little detectable change in the other regions. Under the high scenario, EC declarations would likely be triggered about twice as often and over twice the area in all regions. In SWWA the frequency and areas covered would likely be even greater.

Projected increases in the areal extent and frequency of exceptionally low soil moisture years are slightly clearer than those for rainfall. If soil moisture were the sole criterion for EC declarations, then the mean projections indicate that more
declarations would be likely by 2030, particularly in the SW, SW WA and Vic&Tas regions. Under the high scenario, EC declarations would be triggered almost twice as often in most regions and almost four times as often in SWWA.

Most importantly, the report concludes that the current standard by which 'exceptional circumstances' are declared (a 1 in 20-25 year drought event) "is not appropriate under a changing climate."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Scotland's National Adaptation Framework

The Government of Scotland has released a new report outlining a strategic framework for national adaptation, Adapting Our Ways: Managing Scotland's Climate Risk. Rather than a true framework, it appears to be more of a collection of guiding principles that should be considered in designing adaptation strategies, but the report does list a range of activities that are identified as adaptations that are currently underway. However this largely appears to be a list of existing management functions that have climate implications or projects to assess the implications of climate change for different sectors.

Garnaut Review

Ross Garnaut has a released a draft of the Garnaut Climate Change Review. Undoubtedly, many throughout Australia are diving into the 500+ page report at this very moment, in search of what they perceive to be the good, the bad, and the ugly. What is absent from this version are results from the economic modelling and discussions of adaptation - obviously, key elements that will be examined critically at a future date.

The Preface the report is pasted below:

"The Garnaut Climate Change Review was initiated by the then Leader of the
Opposition, the Hon Kevin Rudd, and by the First Ministers of the eight states
and territories of Australia. It was commissioned by the First Ministers on 30
April 2007. The Commonwealth joined the Review at the end of 2007.

The Review was required to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy, and to recommend medium- to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve the prospects of sustainable prosperity.

The Review’s secretariat was established in June 2007. Based originally within the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet, it includes members from the Queensland, Western Australian and South Australian governments. A secretariat office within the federal Department of Climate Change was established in January 2008. The secretariat has provided invaluable expertise and support to this challenging exercise.

This draft report represents a detailed assessment of the implications of climate change for a single nation. It has built on the existing body of information in the fields of science and economics, and undertaken significant new work to illuminate the potential impacts on, and the most effective course of action for, Australia.

As part of its research and analysis, the Review has consulted widely with a wide range of experts in Australia and overseas: academics, officials, government departments and public bodies, business leaders and representatives, and non‑government organisations. The Review thanks all these people and organisations for their generous support under compressed time frames.

The Review has also benefited substantially from interactions with other organisations and the community more generally at five specialist forums and eight public lectures held around the country between August 2007 and June 2008. These forums and lectures were held in almost every mainland capital city, with an attendance of more than 3200 people in the lead up to the release of the draft report.

A lengthy formal submissions process was also conducted, which attracted almost 4000 submissions. Interested stakeholders were encouraged to respond to a series of five issues papers, a discussion paper on the proposed emissions trading scheme and an interim report released in January 2008, all of which stimulated public discussion and debate on some of the most critical issues for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Australia. The submissions assisted in shaping the direction of the Review and a submissions report will be released in July 2008.

Issues of significance not considered in this draft report (such as the results of the economic modelling and the important issues of adaptation) will be further discussed in the supplementary draft report and the final report."

India's National Action Plan

The Prime Minister of India has released the nation's National Action Plan on Climate Change. The 47 page document outlines proposed actions across a range of areas from energy efficiency to management of Himalayan ecosystems. Interestingly, although the report acknowledges upfront the importance of both mitigation and adaptation measures, it avoids some of the traditional language of adaptation when discussing what would normally be viewed as conventional adaptation actions. For example, in discussiong national "missions" for agriculture, ecosystems, and water resources, the report adheres to the lexicon of sustainability and resilience, which I believe ulimately forces one to look at the implications of climate change in their larger social and environemental context. The report also acknowledges the fact that new institutional arrangements will have to implemented to effectively manage the plan's various missions.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

IGES White Paper on Climate Policy in the Asia-Pacific

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Hayama, Japan, has released a white paper entitled Climate Change Policies in the Asia-Pacific: Re-uniting Climate Change and Sustainable Development. The paper summarises current climate change policies in the Asia-Pacific region and makes a range of new recommendations regarding both mitigation and adaptation, based on research conducted by IGES.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Climate Change in the Middle East

The World Bank has launched a web site on climate change in the Middle East and North Africa region. The website provides information on both mitigation activities in the region as well as efforts to reduce its vulnerability to climate change. The site identifies key vulnerabilities include water scarcity, flood, and social insecurity arising from conflict. The site also links to the World Bank's draft regional business plan, which outlines the World Bank's proposed activities in the region through 2011.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Adaptation for Australian Agriculture

CSIRO has released a report prepared for Land and WaterAustralia examining adaptation options for Australian agriculture.

The report includes discussion of impacts and adaptation for the following agricultural sectors and identifies a number of conclusions regarding the state of knowledge on the efficacy of different options and recommendaiton for future investigations:

  • grains
  • cotton
  • rice
  • sugarcane
  • viticulture
  • horticulture
  • forestry
  • grazing
  • intensive livestock
  • water resources
  • fisheries and aquaculture

IFPRI Launches New Climate Change Webpage

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has launched a new Climate Change webpage that features its research on the assessment of, adaptation to, and mitigation of these risks. Highlights include a BMZ-funded research project that seeks to help policymakers and stakeholders in Ethiopia and South Africa develop climate change adaptation strategies. The page links to explanations of its analysis using IFPRI’s IMPACT model and the MIRAGE model. The page also includes podcasts, a 2-page brochure of IFPRI’s climate change work, and a new paper on the Impact of Climate Change and Bioenergy on Nutrition.

Climate Change in Queensland

The Queensland (Australia) Government has released a brief review of climate change science and impacts for the state.

From the Executive Summary:

Implications for Queensland
Queensland is particularly vulnerable to climate change, as:
• Many of our important sectors (agriculture, tourism) are climate-dependent.
• Most of our population lives on the coast and is at risk from more extreme weather and rising sea levels.
• Our ecologically rich areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest, are vulnerable to a signifi cant loss of biodiversity.
Urgent steps are necessary to stabilise our greenhouse gas emissions at a level where dangerous climate change impacts can be avoided. We must also move quickly to implement adaptation measures to reduce the impacts likely to result from greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. Putting in place actions to minimise the potential impacts of climate change will be essential in ensuring Queensland’s future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Western Port, Victoria

The Western Port Greenhouse Alliance in Victoria, Australia has released the outcomes of it's climate change assessment project that has been two years in the making.

From the WPGA website:

People, Property and PlaceImpacts of Climate Change on Human
Settlements in the Western Port Region: an Integrated Assessment

This project is one of a small number of climate change ‘integrated
assessment’ projects being conducted across Australia. The project builds on and
extends The Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Western Port scoping study
(see elsewhere on this website), initiated in 2005 by the Western Port
Greenhouse Alliance (WPGA), a grouping of the five local governments that
surround Western Port in the region to the immediate south-east of the Melbourne
metropolitan area.

This scoping study established that climate change is an emerging issue
for the Western Port community and identified the need for more detailed
regional information on the potential impacts of climate change, as well as an
understanding of processes that could assist local decision-making on the

The project Impacts of Climate Change on Human Settlements in the
Western Port Region was conducted over two years and examined climate change
impacts on the region’s built environment and communities as well as local
adaptation responses to those impacts. It set out to improve understanding of
the scientific, economic and social impacts of climate change in the Western
Region in order to:

• enhance the capacity and knowledge of local
governments and other decision-makers in the region to prepare for and adapt to
climate change; and
• develop an approach to climate change assessment and
adaptation that has transferability to other regions in Australia.

The Western Port Climate Change Integrated Assessment project consisted
of four major phases:

1) projecting changes to key climate drivers and associated biophysical
impacts in the region. Changes examined included sea level rises, average and
extreme rainfall, storm surge, temperature and fire weather. Outputs of this
phase are provided in three biophysical impacts reports – see the links below if
you wish to see these. This phase of the project was largely completed by CSIRO.

2) examining the nature and extent of potential impacts to the region’s
built environment (land, housing and public and private infrastructure) as well
as an assessment of the social and economic implications of the impacts and the
vulnerability of different localities and groups. Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA)
conducted this phase of the project, with input from CSIRO.

3) identifying and developing a priority list of risks to local governments
associated with the impacts. A series of risk assessments, led by Broadleaf
International and involving upwards of 60 council staff, were undertaken with
each of the region’s local councils. These are now being considered within the
work programs of each local council.

4) adaptation options and barriers to effective response to the high
priority risks which will be explored with local councils, state government and
other key regional decision makers. Considering options and implementing actions
will also feature in the work programs of councils into the future.

Project Downloads
Executive Summary of the People, Property and Places report
Information Summary Table
People, Property and Places - Full report
General Biophysical Report
Rainfall Biophysical Report
Storm Surge Biophysical Report
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adaption Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released yet another of the Climate Change Science Program's synthesis and assessment products - this one focussing on adaptation of natural resources. At 910 pages, it's hard to imagine this being a helpful synthesis, but it does identify seven general categories of adaptation strategies:
1) Protecting key ecosystem features
2) Reducing anthropogenic stresses
3) Representation (preservation of species variants)
4) Replication (preservation of multiple examples of ecosystem types)
5) Ecosystem restoration
6) Refugia
7) Relocation

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Extremes for the United States

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has released another of its synthesis and assessment products, Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate. The report summarises the science regarding observed changes in climate extremes in the U.S. and its territories and captures the state of knowledge regarding how climate change might influence these events in the future.

Some highlights from the summary:

"Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example,
in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually
hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights."

Adaptation in Africa

The International Institute for Environment and Development has released a brief on actions underway in Africa to cope with climate variability and climate change.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ocean Warming Catches Up

A new study in the journal Nature has located previously missing warming of the ocean. After correcting biases in ocean temperature observations, the study found that ocean warming and thermal expansion trends for the past five decades are 50% larger than earlier previously estimated. This finding brings warming trends for the ocean into better agreement with model estimates and aids in attributing cause to observed increases in sea level. Unfortunately, the findings also suggest that the surface ocean offers no refuge from global warming to the Earth's biodiversity.