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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Public Support for Adaptation

According to a new survey commissioned by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions, the majority of Americans support efforts to increase the resilience of coastal communities to extreme events and climate change. The survey found that 82% of individuals thought preparations should be made in advance of future events rather than waiting to clean up after the fact. A majority also favored specific adaptation options like improving building codes and blocking development in vulnerable areas. At the same time, however, opinions regarding other types of adaptation options including sea walls, beach nourishment, and shoreline vegetation were more divided. In addition, while survey respondents noted a strong role for state and federal government in adaptation, when it came to questions regarding who should pay for adaptation, the majority of respondents indicated that the costs should be borne by individual households and businesses at risk and revenue should be raised through property taxes rather than income taxes. 

Adaptation Strategy for U.S. Wildlife

A U.S. intergovernmental working group of federal, state and tribal agency professionals (including the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Council on Environmental Quality, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).has released a National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. According to the agency, the purpose of the strategy is to
"inspire and enable natural resource administrators, elected officials, and other decision makers to take action to adapt to a changing climate. Adaptation actions are vital to sustaining the nation’s ecosystems and natural resources — as well as the human uses and values that the natural world provides."
The strategy contains the usual summary of relevant changes in climate and potential impacts, but focuses extensively on identifying adaptation goals, options to achieve those goals, and criteria for tracking progress.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Declining Adaptation Finance?

Pieter Tirpsten posted an article on WRIInsights that suggests the developed world's commitment to financing mitigation and adaptation activities in the developing world may be faltering:

"Surprisingly, new OECD numbers show that while adaptation expenditures in 2011 remained the same as in 2010, expenditures for mitigation activities decreased. Plus, the total commitment for climate finance decreased from $23 billion in 2010 to $17 billion in 2011."

New Publications on Adaptation Limits

With work on the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report well underway, various researchers involved in the process have been working overtime to get material into the literature for inclusion in the report. Our chapter team for WGII (Chapter 16: Adaptation Opportunities, Constraints and Limits) is no exception. This week, we published a commentary in Nature Climate Change that offers a new approach to framing and defining limits to adaptation. The commentary emphasises the utility of actor-oriented and risk-based framings of adaptation limits to guide future research efforts as well as adaptation practice:

Dow, K., Berkhout, F., Preston,B.L., Klein, R.J.T., Midgley, G., Shaw, R. (2013). Limits to adaptation. Nature Climate Change 3: 305-307.

Meanwhile, another recent paper digs deeper into the driving forces that increase the likelihood of human and natural systems exceeding limits to adaptation and suggests overcoming the current ambiguity and complexity regarding limits to adaptation is a significant research challenge:

Preston, B.L., Dow, K., Berkhout, F. (2013). The climate adaptation frontier. Sustainability 5, 1011-1035.

Downsizing Climate Change

Earlier this month, the Australian Federal Government announced that the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) will cease to exist. Although reported in the press release as a mechanism to "improve the connections between climate policy and economic and industry policy and between energy efficiency programs and the wider energy policy agenda", the government also noted that having implemented a carbon tax, a separate department as no longer needed. This sentiment was also reflected in last year's cuts to funding for DCCEE and the recent announcement that the federally-supported National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility would cease to exist in 2013. Remaining functions of DCCEE will be consolidated into the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. The Australian federal government appears to be sufferening from a case of goal substitution, with the implementation of a carbon tax replacing the broader national goal of developing a climate-resilient, low-carbon society.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recent Reports from the EU

Climate Change, Impacts and Vulnerability in Europe 2012

This European Environment Agency (EEA) report presents information on past and projected climate change and related impacts in Europe, based on a range of indicators. The report also assesses the vulnerability of society, human health and ecosystems in Europe and identifies those regions in Europe most at risk from climate change. Furthermore, the report discusses the principle sources of uncertainty for the indicators and notes how monitoring and scenario development can improve our understanding of climate change, its impacts and related vulnerabilities.

Urban Adaptation to Climate Change in Europe

Challenges and opportunities for cities together with supportive national and European policies.

Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK 2012

In 2009 the latest long-range climate projections for the UK were published in order to inform the UK’s first Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA), required by the Climate Change Act (2008), covering 11 sectors across society. This HPA report complements the Health Sector report of the CCRA by providing scientific evidence of the wider risks to public health from climate change in the UK.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reality Drop

Last week, Al Gore launched Reality Drop, a new interactive tool designed to influence the conversation on climate change. The site is a social media tool that educates users about the reality of climate change and also uses modern gaming techniques to combat climate denial. Reality Drop curates hundreds of online news articles daily for publications that demand a response – whether it's a misleading quote from a climate denier or a heated debate raging in the comments section. Reality Drop makes it easy for users to find the best science-based response, to apply accessible and easy-to-understand language, to add their voice to the conversation — and help cool the argument. 

The End of a Brief Era?

After five years of operations, Australia's National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) is closing its doors. Part funding body that drove adaptation science policy and part boundary organization that facilitated communication and engagement with adaptation stakeholders across Australia, NCCARF represents an interesting model for building capacity for adaptation. Yet, now that model is ending before there are real opportunities to evaluate its utility. This, in conjunction with other cuts across the federal government in adaptation investments raises questions with respect to Australia's ability to continue to lead on this issue.