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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.