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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.