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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WHO Report on Climate Science, Policy and People

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report which provides an update on the science of climate change and human health. Protecting Health from Climate Change: Connecting Science, Policy and People summarises climate change science as well as the various pathways by which climate change can affect human health: air quality, water availability and quality, disease, and exposure to extreme climatic events. The report also emphasises the interactions among poverty, social vulnerability, and public health systems in determining health outcomes. The protection of human health and well-being is argued to be the 'bottom line' in climate change mitigation, and adaptation efforts and policy efforts should be focused on poverty reduction, the maintenance of robust health systems, and climate friendly adaptation strategies for the health sector that don't exacerbate climate change.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Adaptation Reports from Canada

Two recent reports on adaptation have emerged from Canada:

A) The Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation's report Adapting to Climate Change in Ontario: Towards the Design and Implementation of a Strategy and Action Plan.

Rather than leaping ahead with the development of specific adaptation options for the province, the report "describes the strategic goals and specific recommendations from the Panel to inform both the development of a strategy and an action plan". To this end, the report identifies five strategic goals:

  1. Enhance government leadership
  2. integrate adaptation
  3. Support communities
  4. Develop and disseminate knowledge and tools to manage risk
  5. Collaborate with other governments

The report also recommends the establishment of a Climate Change Adaptation Directorate in the Ministry of the Environment and continued investments in climate science and modelling as well as specific adaptation options to reduce vulnerability to climate change.

B) National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy's report True North: Adapting Infrastructure to Climate Change in Northern Canada. The report focuses on the challenge of climate change and adaptation for the nation's infrastructure, particularly in the higher latitudes, where climate change is proceeding at a more rapid rate than elsewhere.

The report makes a number of recommendations:

  • The Canadian Government should adjust funding vehicles for infrastructure development and rehabilitation so that they become incentives to integrate the risk of damage from climate change in infrastructure decisions.
  • National codes and standards for engineering and construction should be reviewed
    and modified to accommodate risks of climate change.
  • Governments and the insurance industry need to work together so that Canadians continue to have access to affordable insurance in a changing climate and so that insurance products encourage modifications to infrastructure in light of climate risks.
  • Governments at all levels should collaborate with northern experts to develop
    the best possible design and engineering guidelines for the North.
  • The Government of Canada should invest in updating and providing more comprehensive climate data, climate change projections, and information for infrastructure design.
  • The Government of Canada needs to share the expertise and experience of Canada’s North in addressing climate risks to infrastructure with other polar nations as part of Canada’s Northern Strategy.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

UNFCCC Review of Adaptation Costs and Benefits

For those interested in information on the costs and benefits of adaptation, the UNFCCC has prepared a literature review. Potential Costs and Benefits of Adaptation Options:
A Review of Existing Literature
reviews methodological approaches for cost and benefit analysis of adaptation as well as global, national and sub-national studies of costs and benefits. However, the study reveals much of the information on adaptation costs and benefits targets the global or national level, largely to either a) justify expenditures on greenhouse gas mitigation, or b) identify the adaptation needs of the developing world. Yet the implementation of adaptation is likely to proceed at the local level on a project-by-project basis. Hence, and as recommended in the UNFCCC report, significant effort should be invested in the future in better characterising adaptation costs and benefits at the local scale.