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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Business Opportunities for Adaptation

OXFAM America has produced a short piece on the "New Adaptation Marketplace," which argues that a number of US industries stand to benefit from the rising demand for climate adaptation.

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts

The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts has completed work on the compilation of observed and projected climate change for the state of Wisconsin. The data are available through an interactive mapping portal and include the following variables:

Historical Trends
- Annual Temperature
Seasonal Temperature
- Spring
- Summer
- Autumn
- Winter
- Annual Precipitation
Future Projections
- Annual Temperature
Seasonal Temperature
- Spring
- Summer
- Autumn
- Winter
- Winter Precipitation
Extreme Events
- Heavy Precipitation
- 90° Days

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brookings Institution on Adaptation

The Brookings Institution in the U.S. has posted two short pieces on climate change adaptation:

Practical Approaches to Financing and Executing Climate Change Adaptation
Humayun Tai (McKinsey & Company)

Executive Summary
"There is increasing consensus that climate change may slow worldwide economic growth and could impact up to 20 percent of the global GDP in the long term, according to the Stern Review. Countries must quickly learn to calculate the risks they face and invest in adaptation measures to couple with their ongoing mitigation efforts. Developed nations will also have to help their developing neighbors adapt—and help pick up the pieces in the wake of climate-related disasters. With these challenges in mind, a first step toward climate-compatible development is helping decision makers assess and address total climate risk. This paper presents an overview of how to estimate the costs of climate change adaptation, how to cover those costs, and practical approaches to build a portfolio of responses for any country or region."
Adaptation to Climate Change: Building Resilience and Reducing Vulnerability
Mohamed El-Ashry (United Nations Foundation)

Executive Summary
"Given the far-ranging adverse impacts of climate change, adaptation must be an integral component of an effective strategy to address climate change, along with mitigation. Adaptation should be approached as an opportunity to rethink development as usual, and should be based on “upstream” interventions that will yield benefits regardless of specific, climate-related events in the future. This policy brief examines win-win strategies for development and adaptation in three key sectors—namely, ecosystems and natural resources, food and agriculture, and health—and focuses on interventions that will be valuable regardless of the uncertainties we face in determining precise climate change impacts."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group

The Economics of Climate Change Working Group has released its framework for the analysis of the costs of adaptation. The report presents a methodology for the assessment of "'total climate risk', from the existing climate as well as from a range of future climate change scenarios, and it quantifies that risk in the context of existing development challenges." Media reports highlighted the big numbers associated with some of the framework's test cases (in China, Guyana, India, Mali, Samoa, Tanzania, the UK, and the US). For example, by 2030, the test cases suggest economic loses on the order of 1 to 12% of GDP due to development, rising to up to 19% in some areas after accounting for a 'high' climate change scenario. However, generally the test cases indicate that the effects of development outweigh the effects of climate change. The good news is that an estimated 40 to 68 percent of the expected economics losses can be avoided through adaptation measures.

The big question is whether any of these numbers are reasonable. For example, the climatic change anticipated in the early 21st century (say 2000 to 2030) is comparable to that which was observed over the previous century. If the world is as sensitive to climate change as what is indicated above, then this suggests there have already been substantial climate change-induced GDP losses in multiple global regions. If true, one could certainly argue that the global economy at least has largely absorbed these adverse effects of climatic change (although certainly there are a few regions that would disagree). Interestingly, the numbers above also suggest that some fraction of economic development must inevitably be written off to cover the costs of greater exposure to climate hazards. So the key to maximising global economic growth is to ensure we live in well-adapted world.

Responding to the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order

In May of 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order mandating renewed focus on conservation efforts for America's iconic Chesapeake Bay estuary. The EO required the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Transportation to collectively prepare a series of draft reports with recommendations covering the following areas:

  • Define the next generation of tools and actions to restore water quality in the Bay and describe the changes to be made to regulations, programs and policies to implement these actions.
  • Target resources to better protect the Bay and its rivers, particularly in agricultural conservation practices.
  • Strengthen storm water management practices for federal facilities and federal land within the Bay watershed and develop a best practices guide for reducing polluted runoff.
  • Assess the impacts of climate change on the Bay and develop a strategy for adapting programs and infrastructure to these impacts.
  • Expand public access to the Bay and its rivers from federal lands and conserve landscapes of the watershed.
  • Expand environmental research, monitoring and observation to strengthen scientific support for decision-making on Bay restoration issues.
  • Develop focused and coordinated habitat and research activities that protect and restore living resources and water quality.

On September 9, the agencies released their draft reports. Key recommendations from the report on climate change included the following:

  1. Develop a centralized Chesapeake Bay climate change coordination program to address climate adaptation activities and management decisions throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed;
  2. Integrate climate change concerns into Chesapeake Bay Program activities and strengthen legislative authority;
  3. Enhance existing and/or develop new technical information and decision support tools to better understand, project, and respond to climate change and its impacts e.g., modeling, observation stations, remote sensing, etc.;
  4. Establish adaptation guidance for managing federal programs, federally-managed lands, and federally financed state, local, and private lands;
  5. Develop a coordinated strategy for climate change outreach and education; and
  6. Develop federally coordinated plans for supporting climate change adaptations.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

World Climate Conference

The 3rd World Climate Conference recently concluded its discussion of the fate of climate services in coming decades. In summary, the conference concluded:

  • that present capabilities to provide effective climate services fall far short of meeting present, and future needs and benefits, particularly in developing countries;
  • that the most urgent need is for much closer partnerships between the providers and users of climate services;
  • that great scientific progress has been made especially by the World Climate Programme and its associated activities over the past 30 years, which provides already a firm basis for the delivery of a wide range of climate services; and
  • that major new and strengthened research efforts are required to increase the time-range and skill of climate prediction through new research and modelling initiatives; and to improve the observational basis for climate prediction and services, and the availability and quality control of climate data;

called for major strengthening of the essential elements of a global framework for
climate services:

  • The Global Climate Observing System and all its components and associated activities; and provision of free and unrestricted exchange and access to climate data;
  • The World Climate Research Programme, underpinned by adequate computing resources and increased interaction with other global climate relevant research initiatives.
  • Climate services information systems taking advantage of enhanced existing
    national and international climate service arrangements in the delivery of products, including sector-oriented information to support adaptation activities;
  • Climate user interface mechanisms focussed on building linkages and integrating information, at all levels, between the providers and users of climate services; and
  • Efficient and enduring capacity building through education, training, and strengthened outreach and communication.

supported the development of the proposed Global Framework for Climate Services.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Climate Change in the Arctic

The latest edition of Science Magazine has this review by Post et al. that summarises observed environmental change in the Arctic in response to global climate change.

"At the close of the Fourth International Polar Year, we take stock of the ecological consequences of recent climate change in the Arctic, focusing on effects at population, community, and ecosystem scales. Despite the buffering effect of landscape heterogeneity, Arctic ecosystems and the trophic relationships that structure them have been severely perturbed. These rapid changes may be a bellwether of changes to come at lower latitudes and have the potential to affect ecosystem services related to natural resources, food production, climate regulation, and cultural integrity. We highlight areas of ecological research that deserve priority as the Arctic continues to warm."

Support for Developing Nations on Shaky Ground

Lisa Friedman of Climatewire recently posted this article at suggesting that international agreement around developed world support for climate adaptation in developing nations remains controversial, particularly in the United States:

"The tension over financing appears to be heating up as available negotiating hours slip away. Indeed, as developing nations wait to find out how much money the industrialized world will make available, a growing number of conservative lawmakers are questioning whether any money at all is appropriate."

Adaptation Learning Mechanism

The Adaptation Learning Mechanism's on-line knowledge sharing platform has been revised and relauched. The ALM was initially launched in 2007 to support three key adapatation-oriented activities:

  1. Adaptation practices – what can be done to adapt to climate change on the ground?

  2. Integration of climate change risks and adaptation into development policy, planning and operations – how can policies and plans support adaptation over time?

  3. Capacity building – how can people be better assisted in becoming equipped for adapting to climate change?

The portal allows users to search a range of examples of adaptation practice across multiple sectors and themes. However, at present the content currently appears to be dominated by National Communications from developing nations, which offer little specific detail regarding the three aforementioned questions. As with any such portal, its utility will be dependent upon broad-scale participation by users who are willing to share their experiences in adaptation practice.