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.

Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Polar Regions)

In both polar regions, there is strong evidence of the ongoing impacts of climate change on terrestrial and freshwater species, communities and ecosystems (very high confidence). Recent studies project that such changes will continue (high confidence), with implications for biological resources and globally important feedbacks to climate (medium confidence). Strong evidence exists of changes in species’ ranges and abundances and in the position of some tree lines in the Arctic (high confidence). An increase in greenness and biological productivity has occurred in parts of theArctic (high confidence). Surface albedo is projected to decrease and the exchange of greenhouse gases between polar landscapes and the atmosphere will change (very high confidence). Although recent models predict that a small net accumulation of carbon will occur in Arctic tundra during the present century (low confidence), higher methane emissions responding to the thawing of permafrost and an overall increase in wetlands will enhance radiative forcing (medium confidence).

Climate Change Action Plan

On February 2, 2005, Governor Janet Napolitano signed Executive Order 2005-02 establishing the Climate Change Advisory Group (CCAG). Appointed by the Governor, the 35-member CCAG comprised a diverse group of stakeholders who brought broad perspective and expertise to the topic of climate change in Arizona. The Governor’s Executive Order directed the CCAG, under the coordination of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), to: 1) prepare an inventory and forecast of Arizona greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; and 2) develop a Climate Change Action Plan with recommendations for reducing GHG emissions in Arizona. The Executive Order emphasized that “Arizona and other Western States have particular concerns about the impacts of climate change and climate variability on the environment, including the potential for prolonged drought, severe forest fires, warmer temperatures, increased snowmelt, reduced snow pack and other effects.” The Executive Order also recognized that “actions to reduce GHG emissions, including increasing energy efficiency, conserving natural resources and developing renewable energy sources, may have multiple benefits including economic development, job creation, cost savings, and improved air quality.”

Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in Europe

From the Executive Summary:

Significant changes in climate and their impacts are already visible globally, and are expected to become more pronounced. In Europe, mountain regions, coastal zones, wetlands and the Mediterranean region are particularly vulnerable. Although there are some positive effects, many impacts are adverse. Existing adaptive measures are concentrated in flood defence, so there is considerable scope for adaptation planning and implementation in other areas, such as public health, water resources and management of ecosystems.

There are a number of challenges which should be addressed to make progress on climate change adaptation. These include:

  • improving climate models and scenarios at detailed regional level, especially for extreme weather events, to reduce the high level of uncertainty;
  • advancing understanding on 'good practice' in adaptation measures through exchange and information sharing on feasibility, costs and benefits;
  • involving the public and private sector, and the general public at both local and national level;
  • enhancing coordination and collaboration both within and between countries to ensure the coherence of adaptation measures with other policy objectives, and the allocation of appropriate resources.

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

This assessment was prepared over the past five years by an international team of over 300 scientists, other experts, and knowledgeable members of the indigenous communities. The lead authors were selected from open nominations provided by AMAP, CAFF, IASC, the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat, the Assessment Steering Committee, and several national and international scientific organizations. A similar nomination process was used by ACIA to select international experts who independently reviewed this report.The report has been thoroughly researched, is fully referenced, and provides the first comprehensive evaluation of arctic climate change, changes in ultraviolet radiation, and their impacts for the region and for the world.