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Sunday, July 19, 2009

German Strategy for Adaptation

The Federal Government of Germany has publicly released its German Adaptation Strategy (Deutsche AnpassungsStrategie, DAS). According to the document,

"The aim of the Adaptation Strategy is to reduce vulnerability to the consequences of climate change, to maintain or improve the adaptability of
natural, social and economic systems, and to take advantage of any opportunities."


However, the strategy itself will do little to address the nation's vulnerability to climate change. By and large, the strategy is devoted to summarising the potential climate changes and impacts relevant to Germany and outlining some basic principles for adaptation. The substantive component of the strategy is the commitment to develop an adaptation action plan by the end of March 2011, which will contain the following:
  • Principles and criteria for identifying and prioritising action needs
  • Prioritising federal measures
  • Overview of concrete measures by other stakeholders (on the basis of the dialogue and participation process)
  • Information on financing
  • Proposals for progress review (indicators)
  • Further development of the German Adaptation Strategy and specification of next steps.

Hence, one will have to wait for the Action Plan to see how Germany will achieve the reductions in vulnerability intended by the strategy.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Play to Stop

The EU has teamed up with MTV to get the youth of Europe into the spirit of tackling climate change (apparently the continent's youngsters are a bit slack in the greenhouse department). The 'Play to Stop' campaign is utilising a series of concerts to bring youth together and create 'teaching moments' that encourage Generation Y to participate in greenhouse gas mitigation. And there's heaps of social marketing gadgets like Twitter, Facebook, etc on offer. The concerts will be held in Stockholm, Budapest and, of course, Copenhagen and will be televised via MTV throughout Europe. Details on concert line-ups remain sketchy, but Moby will be headlining the Stockholm show on August 20.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

RFF Adaptation Studies

The United States' Resources for the Future has been active in the adaptation arena recently, producing a range of studies on climate adaptation in various U.S. sectors as well as some work on the international scene. These studies (listed below) are intended to sketch out the state-of-knowledge regarding the implications of climate change in preparation for RFF's more focused work on adaptation policy.

Adapting to Climate Change: The Public Policy Response—Public Infrastructure
James E. Neumann and Jason C. Price
June 2009

Agriculture and the Food System: Adaptation to Climate Change
John M. Antle
June 2009

An Adaptation Portfolio for the United States Coastal and Marine Environment
David Kling and James N. Sanchirico
June 2009

Emerging Climate Change Impacts on Freshwater Resources: A Perspective on Transformed Watersheds
Alan P. Covich
June 2009

Terrestrial Ecosystem Adaptation
Steven W. Running and L. Scott Mills
June 2009

Adapting to Climate Change: Public Health
Jonathan M. Samet
June 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Science in America

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press recently completed a survey of American attitudes toward science. The results reveal the paradox that exists in American society, where Americans value science and have a high regard for scientists, but significantly disagree with the scientific community on fundamental scientific principles. The survey highlights some of the challenges that exist in convincing society to support policies (such as, say, greenhouse gas mitigation or climate adaptation) arising from scientific investigations.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Climate Change Adaptation Specialist

The World Bank is currently recruiting a climate change adaptation specialist for its Washington, DC office.

Details here (applications due 17 July, 2009)

Cities Pilot Project

ICLEI-USA has released a new report summarising work from the Cities Pilot Project, which has documented greenhouse gas mitigation and, to a lesser extent, adaptation efforts in 18 U.S. cities. While ICLEI continues to progress slowly with advancing adaptation efforts, it's quite apparent from the new report that adaptation remains somewhat of a second fiddle to mitigation in the organisation's eyes.

At the request of ICLEI, cities participating in the pilot project responded to a request for information regarding mitigation and adaptation. According to the report, all cities identified the risks associated with climate change (although these risks included risks associated with both mitigation and adaptation). Risks were crudely categorised as "regulatory", "physical," and "general", but if you are like me, these groupings are too generic to be of much utility. Supporting text provides some more specific examples, which reflects the range of risks perceived by cities, but doesn't elucidate how widespread and comprehensive understanding of risk is among these 18 cities. Undoubtedly, some cities are pushing forward with adaptation planning, with the well-known assessment and planning work in Chicago as a case-in-point. However, the lack of detail in the report on actual adaptation efforts suggests Chicago is an exceptional leader in this arena. Other cities may be wise to follow in Chicago's footsteps, but many do not yet appear to be in a position to do so, and it's unclear the extent to which ICLEI-USA has the capability to help support adaptation.
In contrast, ICLEI-Oceania has done some significant work on adaptation and has developed an adaptation toolkit for cities and Local Government. Hopefully, the folks in Oceania will eventually share their tools with their colleagues in America to assist in putting U.S. municipalities on a more balanced footing in responding to climate change.

Much Ado about Nothing (again)

They came, they saw, they agreed once again to do what none of them seem prepared to actually do. Such was the result of climate discussions at the G8 meeting this week in L'Aquila, Italy. The eight nations agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees C, but failed to agree on any substantive measures that may actually enable such a target to be achieved. I seem to recall that the world agreed to avoid 'dangerous' climate change back in 1992 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Almost 20 years later, governments continue to reiterate that intent, yet don't actually take the steps necessary to bring such intent to fruition. Meanwhile, as argued here by RealClimate and here by yours truly, it's important to bear in mind that all manner of things can still go wrong with the Earth system at less that 2 degrees of warming. Adaptation anyone?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

AfricaAdapt Network

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC)have funded a new adaptation network for Africa, AfricaAdapt. According to the network's website,

"AfricaAdapt is an independent bilingual network (French/English) focused
exclusively on Africa. The Network’s aim is to facilitate the flow of climate
change adaptation knowledge for sustainable livelihoods between researchers,
policy makers, civil society organisations and communities who are vulnerable to
climate variability and change across the continent."

The network enables users to develop project-based web pages that can be shared through the network's website and provides general climate and adaptation-relevant news and events. The network is also associated with an innovation fund that provides grants of up to US$10,000 to facilitate knowledge sharing, particularly among marginalised communities.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Latest from Oxfam

Today, Oxfam released its latest report, Suffering the Science: Climate Change, People, and Poverty. While it is full of rhetoric and references to suggest its conclusions are based on sound science, the report is also full of rhetoric reflecting the advocacy nature of the organisation - e.g., much ado about observed climate extremes as an indicator of climate change impacts. Nevertheless, some folks are into that kind of thing.

From the Summary:

Climate change is a reality and its effects are apparent right now. The scientific predictions are shifting continually – they almost always look bleaker. But Oxfam’s experience in nearly 100 countries is definitive: hundreds of millions of people are already suffering damage from a rapidly changing climate, which is frustrating their efforts to escape poverty. This paper is the story of the ‘affected’.

To tell this story we have brought together the voices of two communities – scientists who study the impact of climate change, and the people who are suffering harm now. In March 2009, 2,500 leading scientists gathered in Copenhagen to present updated research across the entire spectrum of climate change. This paper is based on their work, and as much as possible upon the latest science, set alongside the first-hand stories that emerge from Oxfam’s work with poor people.

Climate Change Impacts in Tennessee

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency recently released a report documenting potential climate change impacts to the state's wildlife. The report also doubles to some extent as an adaptation plan, as it identifies 7 adaptation strategies, which are based in part on the earlier report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Adaptation for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources:

  1. Protecting key ecosystem features
  2. Reducing anthropogenic stresses
  3. Representation
  4. Replication
  5. Restoration
  6. Refugia
  7. Relocation

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Climate Change and Social Justice

Melbourne University Press has published a new book entitled Climate Change and Social Justice. The edited volume covers the gambit of issues (responsibility for climate change, intergenerational equity, health, environmental refugees, adaptation and equity in climate policy) from the likes of Ross Garnaut, David Karoly and Jon Barnett among others. I bring up the rear with Chapter 12: Equitable Climate Policy in a Dangerous World. The Introduction by Jeremy Moss provides a good overview of the various chapters.

Get your copy here.