A Framework for Addressing Rapid Climate Change

Governor Ted Kulongoski appointed the Climate Change Integration Group (CCIG) to develop a framework for making these intelligent and well-informed choices. The Governor charged the CCIG to create a preparation and adaptation strategy for Oregon, implement and monitor mitigation measures from the 2004 Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Reductions (and devise new ones if appropriate), serve as a clearinghouse for Oregon climate change information, and explore new research possibilities related to climate change for Oregon’s universities.

In this report, the CCIG proposes that Oregon takes steps toward developing a framework that will assist individuals, businesses, and governments to incorporate climate change into their planning processes. This framework is based upon the following underpinnings:

• Business-as-Usual is Not Climate as Usual: A change in the Earth’s climate of unprecedented magnitude is now inevitable, but concerted action to reduce greenhouse gases can help reduce the degree to which our climate changes.

• Our Climate is Changing Faster Than Anticipated: Recent scientific work indicates that the climate is changing faster that had been anticipated even three years ago5, and that we may be approaching a less favorable climate regime to sustain Oregon’s economic health.

• Significant Economic Threat: Research shows that climate change will ultimately produce significant adverse economic impacts on most sectors of Oregon’s economy.

• Significant Human Health Threat: Climate change brings with it significant new health threats, such as new diseases and new disease vectors.

• It is Urgent that We Act Now: A broad scientific consensus tells us that it is urgent that we act immediately to reduce the release of greenhouse gases if we are to keep climate change manageable, and to prepare for the impacts of warming that are now inevitable.

Climate Change and the Planning Process in New Brunswick

Storm-surge flooding and coastal erosion affect many low-lying areas of Canada’s coastlines. The coasts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and New Brunswick in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are among Canada’s most vulnerable to sea-level rise. The 190 km Northumberland Strait, varying from 14 to 64 km in width, separates Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 2000, two powerful and destructive storms ravaged coastal communities along the strait, as well as the southern Gulf. These, and several major storms that followed in short succession from 2001 to 2004, demonstrated existing vulnerability and highlighted the need for adaptation strategies to deal with climate change and accelerated sea-level rise.

“Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change on the Coastal Zone of Southeastern New Brunswick” was a three-year study undertaken by scientists and researchers from over a dozen government and academic groups. The project was carried out in consultation with municipalities and planning commissions, community economic organizations and stewardship groups from Kouchibouguac National Park to Cape Jourimain (the entire Gulf coast of New Brunswick south of the Miramichi).

Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

This report provides the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific assessment of the impacts of climate change, the vulnerability of natural and human environments, and the potential for response through adaptation. The report:

  • evaluates evidence that recent observed changes in climate have already affected a variety of physical and biological systems and concludes that these effects can be attributed to global warming;
  • makes a detailed assessment of the impacts of future climate change and sea-level rise on ecosystems, water resources, agriculture and food security, human health, coastal and low-lying regions and industry and settlements;
  • provides a complete new assessment of the impacts of climate change on major regions of the world (Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, North America, polar regions and small islands);
  • considers responses through adaptation;
  • explores the synergies and trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation;
  • evaluates the key vulnerabilities to climate change, and assesses aggregate damage levels and the role of multiple stresses.

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.

Climate Change Risk Management Strategy for Halifax Regional Municipality

Background:

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.

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.