Incorporating Sea Level Change Considerations in Civil Works Programs

This circular provides United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea-level change in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects. Recent climate research by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts continued or accelerated global warming for the 21st Century and possibly beyond, which will cause a continued or accelerated rise in global mean sea-level. Impacts to coastal and estuarine zones caused by sea-level change must be considered in all phases of Civil Works programs.

Coral Reef Resilience Assessment of the Pemba Channel Conservation Area, Tanzania

From the Executive Summary:

This report outlines results of an International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessment of the resilience to climate change of Pemba’s coral reefs. The coral reefs of Pemba, Tanzania, are among the most diverse in East Africa. However, they are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Thirteen reef sites on western Pemba covering a range of reef habitats were surveyed using a recently developed resilience assessment methodology, covering coral and algal community, herbivorous fish populations and specific resilience indicators. The resilience of Pemba’s coral reefs to climate change is under serious threat. However, these threats are manageable.

Indicators of Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change for Agriculture in the Prairie Region of Canada: Comparison with Field Observations

Indicators of the capacity of agriculture producers and agro-ecosystems to adapt to climate stress were developed for 53 Census Divisions across Canada’s Prairie region using Statistics Canada sources. The purpose of the indicators were: to guide the selection of sites for farm-level study of adaptive behaviours; to help illuminate the types of policy interventions that support farm- and community-level adaptation to climate variability and change; and to help identify Prairie locations that are most vulnerable to future climate change.

The indicators were grouped according to six determinants of adaptive capacity put forth by Smit et al. (2001), namely: (1) economic resources; (2) technology; (3) infrastructure; (4) information, skills and management; (5) institutions and networks; and (6) equity. For each determinant, up to four specific indicators were developed and then normalized to create an overall aggregated index for each determinant. An overall index for each Census Division was compiled based on the average of the determinant indices.

The spatial results revealed that Census Divisions exhibiting the highest adaptive capacity were clustered near large urban centres in three main corridors (shown below). From east to west, these areas were: Winnipeg, extending west to Brandon and south to the U.S. border; Saskatoon, extending southeast to Regina and then west to the Alberta border; and Calgary, extending southeast to the U.S. border. Census Divisions exhibiting the lowest relative adaptive capacity were typically along the northern boundaries of the Prairie agricultural region.

These adaptive capacity indicators and indices provide a new perspective on available statistics and information. With conceptual guidance from the literature we were able to develop 20 representative indicators across six determinants using existing data and information. The most notable exception was the lack of data describing surface and groundwater resources across the Prairies, a serious data gap for understanding vulnerability to future climate change. Our analysis highlights the importance of multiple perspectives in assessing adaptive capacity—all six of the determinants were reflected in field interviews with producers and producer organizations across the Prairies and 15 of the 24 indicator categories developed were representative of what producers felt were important with respect to their capacity to adapt. The results also underscore the importance of on-the-ground study in understanding vulnerability and adaptive capacity of producers and agro-ecosystems across the Prairies—of the 15 indicator categories developed, only nine were supported by indicators that accurately represented what producers reported as being important to them in aiding their adaptive responses. Adaptive capacity is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and as such the use of aggregated statistics to inform the design of policies to facilitate adaptive capacity to future climate change must be augmented by site-specific research and deliberation.

Facilitating an International Agreement on Climate Change: Adaptation to Climate Change

A joint initiative of the United Nations Foundation and the Club of Madrid, Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA) consists of former heads of state and government, as well as leaders in business, government, and civil society from more than 20 countries. In 2007, GLCA published Framework for a Post-2012 Agreement on Climate Change, which called for four negotiating pathways focused on mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance. This paper focuses more specifically on adaptation and its links to development and poverty alleviation, with emphasis on action at the local level.

Climate change will have significant impacts on development, poverty alleviation, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Hard-fought progress made in achieving these global goals may be slowed or even reversed by climate change as new threats emerge to water and food security, agricultural production, nutrition, and public health. Countries and regions that fail to adapt will contribute to global insecurity through the spread of disease, conflicts over resources, and a degradation of the economic system.

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. The two are intricately linked—the more we mitigate, the less we have to adapt. However, even if substantial efforts are undertaken to reduce further greenhouse gas emissions, some degree of climate change is unavoidable and will lead to adverse impacts, some of which are already being felt. The world’s poor, who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions, will suffer the worst impacts of climate change and have the least capacity to adapt. Elementary principles of justice demand that the world’s response strategies and adaptation funds give special priority to the poorest countries.

Climate Risks and Adaptive Capacity in Aboriginal Communities: An Assessment South of 60 Degrees Latitude

This document reports on the first year of a proposed three-year project to understand the potential consequences and challenges of climate change for Aboriginal communities south of 60º latitude. It is hoped that this report and subsequent outcomes of the project will help to point the way to how such communities may be better enabled and assisted to cope with both the expected and unexpected challenges that lie ahead.

Alaska Native Villages: Limited Progress Has Been Made on Relocating Villages Threatened by Flooding and Erosion

While the flooding and erosion threats to Alaska Native villages have not been completely assessed, since 2003, federal, state, and village officials have identified 31 villages that face imminent threats. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) March 2009 Alaska Baseline Erosion Assessment identified many villages threatened by erosion, but did not assess flooding impacts. At least 12 of the 31 threatened villages have decided to relocate—in part or entirely—or to explore relocation options. 

Climate Change Policies in the Asia-Pacific: Re-uniting Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Climate change is real and Asia is already experiencing its adverse impacts. Projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that such impacts will become even more intense in the future. While the contribution of developing countries in Asia to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is increasing rapidly, per capita emissions are still low and developmental challenges remain significant. Future efforts by developed countries to reduce GHG emissions through cost-effective mitigation actions, however, offer the possibility of creating new opportunities in developing countries in Asia that will contribute to their sustainable development. Strategies to integrate climate and development actions, therefore, require prompt and careful consideration from policymakers in Asia. Part I of the White Paper explains why it is necessary to integrate climate change and sustainable development in Asia and how this might be best achieved. Global estimates from the IPCC and Stern Review, and limited evidence from Asia, suggest that the costs of inaction on climate change would be many times the costs of action. Therefore, a multi-pronged approach to drastically slow down the rate of growth of GHG emissions in Asia, stabilise and eventually reduce them, is necessary and affordable. Likewise, adaptation efforts to manage the unavoidable impacts of climate change at all levels are crucial and must be set in motion now. Much of the infrastructure necessary to accommodate rapid economic growth in Asia will be built in the near future. Therefore, efforts to avoid “technology lock-in” and pursue a sustainable development path are urgently needed. Sustainable development in Asia must be based on low carbon, resource efficient and qualitatively different development practices that do not deny the right to development and improvements in the quality of life. This transition will require an informed appreciation of Asia’s current status (both good and bad) and concrete recommendations for which direction the region should take in the future as outlined in the White Paper in four priority areas. In comparison to other regions, developing countries in Asia offer the most costeffective opportunities (e.g. energy efficiency (EE) improvement and energy diversification) for GHG mitigation and for integration of climate concerns into nonclimate policies. The region also offers enormous opportunities (e.g. reversing unsustainable land use practices that lead to deforestation and degradation) for exploiting synergies between climate and other international regimes on biodiversity, desertification, and other areas. The size of the population and ecosystems vulnerable to the impacts of climate change also distinguish Asia from other regions, and failure to adapt adequately will be a major threat to meeting millennium development goals (MDG) in the region. Even though optimal paths towards adaptation are poorly understood at present, a host of “noxx IGES White Paper regrets” actions to adapt to climate change can be taken which are cost effective and make economic and environmental sense. Opportunities also exist for mainstreaming adaptation concerns in development planning and assistance. Despite strong linkages between climate change and development, and vulnerability of Asian populations and ecosystems, climate policy has thus far received limited attention from policymakers in several Asian countries. The lack of know-how in formulating integrated development and climate actions, and in exploiting various “winwin” options and co-benefits remain serious barriers in the region, leading to significant gaps between the formulation and implementation of effective policies affecting the climate. Some progress has been demonstrated in developing institutional structures (e.g. interministerial agencies, designated national authorities [DNA], and national committees on climate change), but most of these structures are designed to take advantage of the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism (CDM) and energy investment frameworks supported by international financial institutions. No country in the region has developed a comprehensive national policy framework on adaptation. 

Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States

This report summarizes the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It is largely based on results of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and integrates those results with related research from around the world. This report discusses climate-related impacts for various societal and environmental sectors and regions across the nation. It is an authoritative scientific report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision making at all levels.

Buildings and Climate Change: A Summary for Decision-Makers

A Summary for Decision Makers, the latest UNEP-SBCI report, highlights the potential of more efficient buildings in addressing climate change. The report argues that a failure to encourage more energy-efficient and low-carbon buildings will lock countries into the disadvantages of poor performing buildings for decades, and states that governments will fail to meet emission reduction targets if they exclude the building sector. This sector has the highest potential of all to deliver greenhouse gas emissions cuts, at the least cost, using available and mature technologies!

Terrestrial Ecosystem Adaptation

In this report, we evaluate adaptation issues for natural ecosystems. We will specifically focus on the interactions with the abiotic environment of plants and animals, along with other organisms with which they interact (e.g., disease‐causing bacteria and viruses). We further limit ourselves to natural ecosystems in which the predominant vegetation has developed without having been planted, irrigated, or fertilized. Most of the natural lands in the United States are managed by federal or state governments. Agricultural lands—including range grazing lands —are dealt with in a related adaptation report. This will evaluate the potential magnitudes and challenges facing terrestrial ecosystems in the United States in adapting to changing climate over the next 30–50 years. Our report will not address attribution or mitigation of climate change, as these topics have been dealt with in many other forums. We will begin with a brief summary of the current trajectory of the changing climate in the United States, including both temporal and spatial patterns. We will then relate these trends to ecosystem impacts and vulnerabilities. We consider adaptation in the broad sense to include any means by which organisms successfully confront a perturbation such as climate change. This includes both local adaptation in place—either through plastic responses or through evolutionary changes—as well as changes in movements within or outside of the current geographic range. Some species (often invasive and disease species) will adapt spectacularly. By contrast, those unable to adapt will experience decreased average mean fitness, translating into population decline, decreased persistence, and changed community and ecosystem structure. After considering ecological adaptation mechanisms, it becomes possible to consider potential management options to enhance adaptation. We do not make recommendations of specific adaptation activities at this point; rather, we suggest alternatives to begin the discussion.