Climate Change Risk Management Strategy for Halifax Regional Municipality


According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other leading climate change researchers, climate change is impacting and will continue to affect the health and well being of people and communities throughout the world even if global greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to the Kyoto Protocol target levels. If left unmitigated, these climate changes are likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt.

Globally, estimates of the annual cost of climate change impacts range from $300 billion to over $2,000 billion. While there is no consensus that either Hurricane Juan that affected Nova Scotia, or Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities were caused by climate change, the devastating physical, health, and social impacts may foretell the type of impacts on vulnerable coastal communities that are likely to become more frequent in the future as a consequence of global climate change. Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has been witness to the physical and social impacts of extreme weather, notably Hurricane Juan in September 2003, and the one-metre snowfall and high winds experienced during the ‘Great Maritime Blizzard’ of February 2004. These extreme events significantly impacted the region, and severely impacted the region’s electrical and communications infrastructure as well as impeding public access to health and emergency service facilities throughout the Province of Nova Scotia but most particularly here in the HRM.

In response to HRM’s experience with extreme events and the projections that indicate these events are expected to be become more frequent, the Sustainable Environment Management Office (SEMO) in collaboration with members of ClimAdapt (a network of private sectorcompanies in Nova Scotia that provide climate change adaptation expertise) partnered with, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia to develop an approach that could be implemented to reduce HRM’s contribution to greenhouse gases and manage the impacts of climate change. The result of thisinitiative was Climate SMART (Sustainable Mitigation and Adaptation Risk Toolkit) with the overall objective of mainstreaming climate change into municipal decision making.

A Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds

A comprehensive exploration of the relationships between the distributions of birds breeding in Europe and the present climate, and how future climatic change may alter each species’ potential breeding distribution.

Results are presented in detail for 431 species; brief accounts are also included for a further 48 native and 16 introduced species. The contents of the volume include: outline accounts of climate and vegetation patterns in Europe; a biogeographic analysis of the breeding birds of Europe; a review of the background to studies of the relationships between species’ distributions and climate; a discussion of the methods used in such studies; a summary of how European climate is projected to change by the end of the present century; a discussion of how species respond to climatic changes; for each of 431 species, a brief account of their distribution and ecology, maps of their recent observed and modelled geographical distribution, and of their potential future distribution in the late 21st century, a graphical representation of the location in climate space of the species’ distribution and text describing the possible effects of climate change on the species; a synthesis and discussion of the results for the ensemble of 431 species examined; and a concluding section exploring the implications of these results, especially with respect to the conservation of birds in Europe.

The many maps and diagrams this volume contains, as well as the succinct accounts of the distribution and ecology of the 431 species examined in detail, offer much that will be valued by the amateur and professional ornithologist alike. The introductory, review and synthetic material will also be of interest to a wider range of biologists and conservation scientists, as well as to those in government and non-government organizations addressing issues relating to biodiversity conservation, both in Europe and beyond.

Assessment of Adaptation Practices, Options, Constraints and Capacity

From the Executive Summary:

This chapter is an assessment of knowledge and practice on adaptation since the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR). In the TAR, adaptation and vulnerability were defined, types of adaptation were identified, and the role of adaptive capacity was recognised (Smit et al., 2001). Notable developments that occurred since the TAR include insights on: a) actual adaptations to observed climate changes and variability; b) planned adaptations to climate change in infrastructure design, coastal zone management, and other activities; c) the variable nature of  vulnerability and adaptive capacity; and d) policy developments, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other international, national and local initiatives, that facilitate adaptation processes and action programmes (Adger et al., 2005; Tompkins et al., 2005; West and Gawith, 2005).

This chapter assesses the recent literature, focussing on realworld adaptation practices and processes, determinants and dynamics of adaptive capacity, and opportunities and constraints of adaptation. While adaptation is increasingly regarded as an inevitable part of the response to climate change, the evidence in this chapter suggests that climate change adaptation processes and actions face significant limitations, especially in vulnerable nations and communities. In most of the cases, adaptations are being implemented to address climate conditions as part of risk management, resource planning and initiatives linked to sustainable development.

Weathering the Storm: Options for Framing Adaptation and Development

Adaptation to climate change continues to rise on the agendas of researchers, practitioners, and decisionmakers, driven by growing evidence that climate change is real, already observable, and threatening to undermine development. Any effective development and planning process will need to take climate adaptation into account and, conversely, adaptation efforts themselves will often require development interventions to succeed. This paper explores the link between the climate adaptation agenda and the development agenda, building on evidence from more than 130 case studies in developing countries.

While climate impacts are increasingly observed, the debate over managing adaptation has progressed very slowly. This in part is due to confusion about the relationship between adaptation and development—a definitional problem that has hindered not only project design, but also the allocation of funding for adaptation efforts. Notwithstanding the difficulty in developing a concise operational definition, failure to clarify this relationship has meant that funding mechanisms create redundancies or leave gaps in the landscape of critical adaptation and development activities.

The Compendium of Adaptation Models for Climate Change: First Edition

The climate system is dynamic affecting all aspects of our health, wealth, security and competitiveness. The climate has, is and will continue to change and change means adaptation. But which future adaptation pathway to choose is often a difficult and complex question with many options, collateral effects, investments and many partners. Adaptation science has a key and fundamental role in this process to help decision-makers choose the right pathway forward.  

This document presents and summarizes 35 selected adaptation models for climate change. The Compendium is a contribution to the Nairobi Work Program and provides scientific and technical information on adaptation models for climate change.

A Survey of Climate Change Adaptation Planning

In the past few years there has been a remarkable increase in the level of awareness of climate change worldwide. Concerns about causes and effects have moved beyond the realm of scientific debate to the offices of legislators and the conference rooms of city planners, and even to the living rooms of people everywhere. As evidence accumulates that a warming planet will cause widespread and mostly harmful effects, scientists and policy makers have proposed various mitigation strategies that might reduce the rate of climate change. For those officials in government who must plan now for an uncertain future, however, strategies for adapting to climate change are equally important.

The options available to planning officials have become better defined over time as they have been studied--and in some cases, implemented--but adaptation planning continues to involve many uncertainties. These arise from the fact that every community is unique in its setting and people, and therefore faces environmental and social vulnerabilities that will differ from those of neighboring communities. Understanding the nature of these vulnerabilities is part of the challenge of creating an adaptation strategy.

Even when the potential threats are understood, the localized nature of impacts and the seemingly distant timeframes involved can make it hard to formulate and implement policies that affect activities taking place in specific localities right now. Fortunately, a number of tools, resources and ongoing efforts are currently available to planners to provide guidance for and examples of adaptation planning.

This introductory survey report is designed to provide a “road map” to some of this information. It makes no claim to be comprehensive or to represent best practices on adaptation. Rather, the goal in producing this survey is to help generate discussion and the sharing of ideas, efforts and lessons learned across the adaptation community.

Assessing Mitigation-Adaptation Scenarios for Reducing Catastrophic Climate Risk

Countries can use both mitigation and adaptation strategies to protect their citizens from catastrophic risk posed by climate change (e.g., shift in the jet stream). A nation can mitigate by reducing CO2 emissions, which reduces the probability of a catastrophic event; it can adapt by altering the infrastructure so that damages can be reduced in the event a catastrophe is realized. Herein we add to the current literature by extending the endogenous risk framework into a dynamic framework permitting analysis of both mitigation and adaptation while allowing for the dynamic process of global climate change. Our results suggest adaptation to catastrophe is a small fraction of the national climate protection budget relative to mitigation when nations cooperate fully, when damages are both continuous and catastrophic, and when nations have a short planning horizon. Adaptation becomes more important relative to mitigation when nations are unlikely to cooperate, when damages are mainly catastrophic, or when the nation’s planning horizon increases.

Linking Vulnerability, Adaptation, and Resilience Science to Practice: Pathways, Players and Partnerships

Vulnerability, adaptation and resilience are concepts that are finding increasing currency in several fields of research as well as in various policy and practitioner communities engaged in global environmental change science, climate change, sustainability science, disaster risk-reduction and famine interventions. As scientists and practitioners increasingly work together in this arena a number of questions are emerging: What is credible, salient and legitimate knowledge, how is this knowledge generated and how is it used in decision making? Drawing on important science in this field, and including a case study from southern Africa, the article suggests an alternative mode of interaction to the usual one-way interaction between science and practice often used. In this alternative approach, different experts, risk-bearers, and local communities are involved and knowledge and practice is contested, co-produced and reflected upon. Despite some successes in the use and negotiation of such knowledge for ‘real’ world issues, a number of problems persist that require further investigation including the difficulties of developing consensus on the methodologies used by a range of stakeholders usually across a wide region (as the case study of southern Africa shows, particularly in determining and identifying vulnerable groups, sectors, and systems); slow delivery of products that could enhance resilience to change that reflects not only a lack of data, and need for scientific credibility, but also the time-consuming process of coming to a negotiated understanding in science–practice interactions and, finally, the need to clarify the role of ‘external’  agencies, stakeholders, and scientists at the outset of the dialogue process and subsequent interactions. Such factors, we argue, all hinder the use of vulnerability and resilience ‘knowledge’ that is being generated and will require much more detailed investigation by both producers and users of such knowledge.

A Framework for Debate of Assisted Migration in an Era of Climate Change

Assisted migration is a contentious issue that places different conservation objectives at odds with one another. This element of debate, together with the growing risk of biodiversity loss under climate change, means that now is the time for the conservation community to consider assisted migration. Our intent here is to highlight the problem caused by a lack of a scientifically based policy on assisted migration, suggest a spectrum of policy options, and outline a framework for moving toward a consensus on this emerging conservation dilemma.

Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability: Farmer Responses to Intra-Seasonal Precipitation Trends in South Africa

We describe the nature of recent (50 year) rainfall variability in the summer rainfall zone, South Africa, and how variability is recognised and responded to on the ground by farmers. Using daily rainfall data and self-organising mapping (SOM) we identify 12 internally homogeneous rainfall regions displaying differing parameters of precipitation change. Three regions, characterised by changing onset and timing of rains, rainfall frequencies and intensities, in Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu Natal provinces, were selected to investigate farmer perceptions of, and responses to, rainfall parameter changes. Village and household level analyses demonstrate that the trends and variabilities in precipitation parameters differentiated by the SOM analysis were clearly recognised by people living in the areas in which they occurred. A range of specific coping and adaptation strategies are employed by farmers to respond to climate shifts, some generic across regions and some facilitated by specific local factors. The study has begun to understand the complexity of coping and adaptation, and the factors that influence the decisions that are taken.