Managing an Uncertain Future

Climate change is already affecting California’s water resources. Bold steps must be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, even if emissions ended today, the accumulation of existing greenhouse gases will continue to impact climate for years to come. Warmer temperatures, altered patterns of precipitation and runoff, and rising sea levels are increasingly compromising the ability to effectively manage water supplies, floods and other natural resources. Adapting California’s water management systems in response to climate change presents one of the most significant challenges of this century.

Financing Adaptation: Opportunities for Innovation and Experimentation

Climate change is upon us. The earth is warming, seasons are shifting, species are migrating, and water is flowing in new patterns. The accelerating and deepening impacts of climate change will touch everyone on earth, but those who stand to suffer most are the poor. People and governments must find the will and the means to slow, stop, and reverse the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to avert catastrophic warming.

But it is already too late to avert some serious consequences. We must also learn to adapt to a warmer world. This question of adaptation is a particularly pressing issue for national and international agencies tasked with providing financial and technical assistance to reduce poverty in developing countries. As leaders begin to consider policies and measures to respond to mounting climate effects, it is critical that adaptation efforts be designed to support the poorest communities in their development efforts. Likewise, development assistance must foster adaptation if it is to succeed within a changing climate. That the poor are the people least responsible for global warming makes these efforts all the more imperative.

This paper explores the opportunities and challenges involved in financing adaptation efforts in developing countries. The last two years have seen a surge of interest in adaptation finance with new funding proposals floated on an almost weekly basis. But many critical questions remain. How much will adaptation cost? Which proposals are most likely to generate an adequate and predictable flow of funds? How should these funds be channeled so that they reach those most in need? How do we ensure adaptation funds are used most effectively?

This paper seeks to provide some answers, and to lay out the state of play in the fledgling field of climate adaptation finance. Section I provides a conceptual model for the relationship between adaptation and development. Section II reviews estimates of adaptation costs and the funding chasm with existing sources of adaptation finance. Section III assesses existing and emerging approaches to generating new finance from public sources. With an eye to the United Nations climate negotiations for a post 2012 international climate agreement, it also sets out guiding principles for generating funds on a scale commensurate with the challenge. Section IV looks at options for channeling adaptation funds to developing countries, and ensuring the accountability of chosen institutions. Section V highlights emerging approaches to spending adaptation funds and dissects the relative merits for the world’s poor of financing specific adaptation projects or mainstreaming adaptation into development.

In Section VI, Next Steps, we use a U.S. legislative case study to explore how de-linking the three phases of adaptation finance—generation, channeling and spending—could promote innovation and political support for such initiatives around the world.

Throughout, we propose guiding principles to assure effective decision-making by the international community in tackling this most urgent of challenges of our time.

Climate Change and Long-Term Council Community Planning

To address climate change successfully New Zealand has to:

  • comply with and support the development of international climate change agreements
  • play its part in reducing net greenhouse gas emissions
  • adapt to the inevitable physical impacts of climate change

Local authorities have a key role to play in New Zealand’s response to this challenge. Local authorities are currently reviewing their Long-term Council Community Plans (LTCCPs) which will outline their activities over the period from 2009 to 2019. Climate change will have direct and indirect implications for local authorities over this time period.

By taking a strategic approach in this round of LTCCP reviews, local authorities and their communities will be well positioned to adapt to the effects of climate change and respond positively to the incentives provided by the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and other climate change mitigation policies.

This publication gives an overview of how you can incorporate climate change into your LTCCP and provides you with links to more detailed information and guidance.


North Carolina’s Coasts in Crisis: a Vision for the Future

Tide gauge and historical data demonstrate that relative sea level is currently rising in northeastern North Carolina at a rate of 16 to 18 inches per century. One hundred years ago, the rate was 7 inches per century and 200 years ago it was only 3 inches per century. The rate will likely continue to increase into the future as climate continues to warm. The warming climate might also spawn more frequent and intense hurricanes. When so much of down-east North Carolina is just a foot or two above current sea level, we must take note. The future will likely see accelerated rates of coastal erosion and associated loss of urban infrastructure, agricultural land, wetlands, and segments of barrier islands. In addition, there will likely be increased  economic losses due to floods, droughts and storms with a potentially serious impact on the state’s coastal tourism and recreation economy – unless we accept and plan for environmental change, and adapt.

This White Paper is produced for coastal managers, agencies, business owners, politicians, residents of and visitors to the coast – anyone who has an interest in maintaining the unique character of the North Carolina coast that draws so many tourists to it every year. The global climate is warming, the intensity of  tropical storms might increase, and the rate of sea-level rise is increasing. Can we deal wisely with these issues so that we can adapt to the coming changes rather than be overwhelmed by them?

Florida’s Energy & Climate Change Action Plan

Florida's Energy and Climate Change Action Plan is the framework that will secure Florida's energy future, reduce greenhouse gas emissions,and support emerging "green tech sector." The Plan addresses seven main strategies including inventory and projections of Florida's greenhouse gas emissions,energy supply and demand,cap and trade,transportation and land use, agriculture, forestry, and waste management, government policy and coordination, and adaptation strategies.

Chicago Climate Action Plan

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago reinvented itself as a thriving hub that anchored the nation's commerce. In 1909, the Burnham Plan envisioned a "City Beautiful" - and called on all residents to act in the public's best interest to create it. Chicagoans have always faced obstacles with determination and imagination, and emerged all the stronger.

More than 15 years ago, Mayor Richard M. Daley began to transform Chicago into the most environmentally friendly city in the nation. Today, Chicago is one of the world's greenest and most livable cities, thanks to strong partnerships between government, residents and businesses. We lead the way from green roofs to green buildings and policies. We've become the nation's laboratory for studying ways to reduce the "urban heat island" effect, which can raise a city's temperature 4 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit on hot summer days. Our extensive public transit system offers a low-cost, energy-efficient alternative to solo driving. Our Bicycling program has produced more bike parking than any other U.S. city and 165 miles of bikeways. Our green homes and other programs help families save thousands of dollars through energy efficiency.

The past 15 years have also seen a tremendous growth in our understanding of climate change and the important role that cities can play in addressing it. This worldwide threat to our planet demands an encompassing plan from every city, state and nation and action from every resident and business to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases and to ensure a good quality of life for future generations.

It was with that charge in mind that Mayor Daley created a multi-stakeholder task force to produce a Chicago Climate Action Plan (CCAP).

The Task Force created a Plan that:

  • Determines the challenges we face as our climate changes
  • Describes the sources of our greenhouse gas emissions
  • Sets goals to reduce our emissions and adopt to changes already affecting us
  • Finds ways to leverage our knowledge to improve our economy and quality of life
  • Outlines concrete, achievable goals for all those who make Chicago their home

This overview report summarizes the Chicago Climate Action Plan. For more detailed information, and to see the full scientific reports, visit Please join us by finding your role in implementing the Chicago Climate Action Plan.

Maryland Climate Action Plan

On April 20, 2007, Governor Martin O’Malley signed Executive Order 01.01.2007.07 (the Order) establishing the Maryland Commission on Climate Change (the Commission). Sixteen State agency heads and six members of the General Assembly comprise the Commission. The principal charge of the Commission is to develop a Plan of Action (the Climate Action Plan) to address the drivers of climate change, to prepare for its likely impacts in Maryland, and to establish goals and timetables for implementation.

The Order emphasized Maryland’s particular vulnerability to climate change impacts of sea level rise, increased storm intensity, extreme droughts and heat waves, and increased wind and rainfall events. It recognized that human activities such as coastal development, burning of fossil fuels, and increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are contributing to the causes and consequences of climate change. While noting Maryland’s recent climate initiatives, the Order emphasized that continued leadership by example by Maryland State and local governments is imperative.

The Commission is supported by three Working Groups whose members were appointed by the Commission Chair, Shari T. Wilson, Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE): Scientific and Technical Working Group (STWG), chaired by Donald Boesch, President, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and co-chaired by Frank W. Dawson, Assistant Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Robert M. Summers, Deputy Secretary of MDE; Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Mitigation Working Group (MWG), chaired by George (Tad) Aburn, Director of MDE’s Air and Radiation Management Administration, and co-chaired by Malcolm Woolf, Director, Maryland Energy Administration (MEA); and Adaptation and Response Working Group (ARWG), chaired by John R. Griffin, Secretary of DNR, and co-chaired by Richard Eberhart Hall, Secretary, Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) and Don Halligan, Assistant Secretary of MDP. These Working Groups and the technical work groups (TWGs) that support them represent diverse stakeholder interests and bring broad perspective and expertise to the Commission’s work. The Commission’s work was facilitated by a consultant, the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS).

Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change Phase I: Sea-level rise and coastal storms

The Adaptation and Response Working Group (ARWG) of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change (mccc) was charged with developing the Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Maryland’s Vulnerability to Climate Change. The Executive Order calls for the Strategy to outline specific policy recommendations for reducing the vulnerability of the state’s natural and cultural resources and communities to the impacts of climate change, with an initial focus on sea-level rise and coastal hazards, including shore erosion and coastal flooding.

This report lays out the specific priority policy recommendations of the ARWG to address short-and long-term adaptation and response measures, planning and policy integration, education and outreach, performance measurement, and, where necessary, new legislation and/or modifications to existing laws. For the purposes of this report, the priority policy recommendations have been condensed and a select number of implementation targets identified.

Enhancing Coping and Adaptation Capacity of the Coastal Community to Reduce Vulnerability to Climate Change

This project will initiate actions for local level community and stakeholders to enhance adaptive capacity, resilience and livelihood due to impact of climate change by involving directly 250 households (based on SSN Project Design Document) focusing on key areas of environmental education, agriculture, fisheries, alternative livelihoods, water, and disaster risk reduction activities.

Low Flows Hot Trout: Climate Change in the Clark Fork Watershed

Decades of data and observations now point to a clear conclusion: the Clark Fork River basin is now experiencing a very real shift in climate. During the next 100 years, this shift is expected to accelerate, contributing to physical, ecological, social, and economic changes, many of which have already begun.

Scrolling through the months and the metrics from the 1950s, we now see that March in western Montana is hotter, more precipitation comes as rain, spring snowmelt arrives earlier, extreme wildfires are more frequent, and glaciers are making hastier retreats. And the projections years out show much of the same.

While not all the associated impacts are bad—for example, we can expect a longer growing season and improved survival of deer and elk over the winter—we will also experience more forest disease and insect infestation, more wildfire, and higher temperatures in our rivers leading to habitat degradation for our native fish. Some studies have estimated that we could lose between 5 and 30 percent of trout habitat in western Montana over the next century. With less storage of water as snow in the mountains, we can also expect impacts to our “snowpack economy”—agriculture, recreation and tourism, hydroelectric power generation, and forest and range industries.

What does it all mean for our way of life in the Clark Fork watershed? Low Flows, Hot Trout takes a look, delivering a plain-language synthesis of the key findings from years of data-gathering in our watershed, blended with anecdotal observations by a broad spectrum of river basin citizens, from realtor to rancher, fishing guide to firefighter.

We designed this report to be accessible to the public, informative to those whose livelihoods are directly tied to the river, and illuminating to policymakers looking for effective responses.

The bottom line is this: things can be done and everyone can make a difference, from simple at-home fixes that improve energy and water use to large-scale policy changes that stimulate renewable energy production and river-sensitive growth management. The following pages give a snapshot of what we can do to protect our hometown creeks, our local economies, and our celebrated way of life in the changing climate of the Clark Fork watershed.