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.

Developing a System of Sustainability Indicators for the Lake Balaton Region

Studied area is the Lake Balaton region, where we had to go back to re-clarify issues as we were trying to find suitable indicators. This initiative showed that developing an indicator system is a fairly demanding process. However, identifying local trends and linking them to policy-making are crucial, because lack of comprehensive information accessible in a timely manner can severely constrain successful adaptation efforts. Although our work represents only an initial step, the indicator system developed in the project will hopefully inspire concerned citizens and organizations in the region to take interest in this issue and continue working on indicators beyond this project.

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.

The Impact of Sea Level Rise on Developing Countries: A Comparative Analysis

Sea level rise (SLR) due to climate change is a serious global threat: The scientific evidence is now overwhelming. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions and associated global warming could well promote SLR of 1m-3m in this century, and unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets might produce a 5m SLR. In this paper, we have assessed the consequences of continued SLR for 84 developing countries. Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been used to overlay the best available, spatially-disaggregated global data on critical impact elements (land, population, agriculture, urban extent, wetlands, and GDP) with the inundation zones projected for 1-5m SLR. Our results reveal that hundreds of millions of people in the developing world are likely to be displaced by SLR within this century; and accompanying economic and ecological damage will be severe for many. At the country level, results are extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries. For these countries (e.g., Vietnam, A.R. of Egypt, and The Bahamas), however, the consequences of SLR are potentially catastrophic. For many others, including some of the largest (e.g., China), the absolute magnitudes of potential impacts are very large. At the other extreme, many developing countries experience limited impacts. Among regions, East Asia and Middle East/North Africa exhibit the greatest relative impacts. To date, there is little evidence that the international community has seriously considered the implications of SLR for population location and infrastructure planning in developing countries. We hope that the information provided in this paper will encourage immediate planning for adaptation.

Scientific Design of a Resilient Network of Marine Protected Areas Kimbe Bay, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea

The Nature Conservancy’s vision for Kimbe Bay is to “Harness traditional and community values to protect and use land and sea resources in ways that maintain the exceptional natural and cultural heritage of the bay”. This will be achieved by working with local communities, governments and other stakeholders to establish a resilient network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and develop strategies for improved management of marine resources and land use practices. This report focuses on a critical step in this process– designing a resilient network of MPAs for Kimbe Bay.

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.

Coping with Global Climate Change: The Role of Adaptation in the United States

From the Executive Summary:

Climate change resulting from increased greenhouse gas concentrations has the potential to harm societies and ecosystems. In particular, agriculture, forestry, water resources, human health, coastal settlements, and natural ecosystems will need to adapt to a changing climate or face diminished functions. Reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases and their concentration in the atmosphere will tend to reduce the degree and likelihood that significantly adverse conditions will result. Consideration of actions—e.g., mitigation policy—that can reduce this likelihood is reasonable and prudent, and has generally been the primary focus of public attention and policy efforts on climate change. However, recognition is increasing that the combination of continued increases in emissions and the inertia of the climate system means that some degree of climate change is inevitable. Even if extreme measures could be instantly taken to curtail global emissions, the momentum of the earth’s climate is such that warming cannot be completely avoided. Although essential for limiting the extent, and indeed the probability, of rapid and severe climate change, mitigation is not, and this paper argues, should not be, the only protective action in society’s arsenal of responses.

Adaptation actions and strategies present a complementary approach to mitigation. While mitigation can be viewed as reducing the likelihood of adverse conditions, adaptation can be viewed as reducing the severity of many impacts if adverse conditions prevail. That is, adaptation reduces the level of damages that might have otherwise occurred. However, adaptation is a risk-management strategy that is not free of cost nor foolproof, and the worthiness of any specific actions must therefore carefully weigh the expected value of the avoided damages against the real costs of implementing the adaptation strategy.