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Adapting to Climate Change Climate Science in the Public Interest Lara Whitely Binder Amy Snover Climate Impacts Group University of Washington June 15,

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Presentation on theme: "Adapting to Climate Change Climate Science in the Public Interest Lara Whitely Binder Amy Snover Climate Impacts Group University of Washington June 15,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Adapting to Climate Change Climate Science in the Public Interest Lara Whitely Binder Amy Snover Climate Impacts Group University of Washington June 15, 2011 ITEP Tribal Air Quality Conference

2 Atmospheric Lifetime of Individual Major Greenhouse Gas Molecules Carbon Dioxide ~60% of warming from GHG 5 to 200 years Methane ~20% of warming from GHG 8 to 12 years Nitrous Oxide ~6% of warming from GHG ~120 years CF4 (Perfluoromethane)>50,000 years IPCC 2001

3 Climate change will require sustained mitigation and adaptation efforts Source: IPCC

4 How Does Adaptation Occur? Reactive Adaptation – Dealing with climate impacts after-the-fact Anticipatory Adaptation – Taking proactive steps to reduce the risks associated with climate change for individuals, communities, and ecosystems Both are ways of adapting to climate change, however…

5 Why Not Reactive Adaptation Only ? Reactive adaptation may be “too little too late” in some cases (e.g., loss of a species) Reactive adaptation may cost more than anticipatory adaptation Reactive adaptation runs the risk of being short- sighted by focusing on the crisis at hand

6 The 4-As of Adaptation Planning Climate Resilience 1. Awareness2. Analysis3. Action 4. Assessment 1. Awareness : Recognize that the past may no longer be a reliable guide to the future 2. Analysis : Determine likely consequences of climate change for the specific sector or resource of interest 3. Action : Integrate climate change projections into planning processes 4. Assessment : Evaluate climate adaptation efforts in light of progress to date & emerging science

7 “Climate Proof” What is Adaptive Planning?

8 Developing more “climate resilient” organizations, communities, economies, and ecosystems What does this mean? Taking steps to avoid or minimize the climate change impacts we can address while increasing the ability of human and natural systems to “bounce back” from the impacts that cannot be avoided (or anticipated) The Goal of Adaptive Planning

9 (d) Determine priorities for planning (vulnerability assessment) (b) Make the commitment to prepare for climate change (a) Information gathering – how will climate change affect my community/region? (an ongoing part of the process) (c) Assemble your planning “team” and bring them up to speed (e) Develop and implement your adaptation “plan” (f) Periodically revisit your adaptation plan for needed adjustments – how has the science, your community changed? The Basic Planning Process

10 Why assess vulnerability? To understand actual implications of climate change To provide a do-nothing benchmark for evaluating response options To identify priority areas for action (high exposure, high sensitivity, low adaptability) Information on climate impacts from available literature and, in some cases, scenario development.

11 Components of Vulnerability Vulnerability = Exposure + Sensitivity – Adaptive Capacity

12 How Do We Assess Vulnerability? Consider... Identify Key Exposures. What climate change impacts is my community likely to experience? Assess Sensitivity. How will my community change in response to projected changes in climate? Think about... – Where you currently experience problems associated with temperature, precipitation extremes/extreme weather events. – Is climate change likely to make these worse or better? Consider Adaptability. What is my community’s ability to adjust in response to projected or actual changes in climate?

13 How do we reduce vulnerability? Reduce the exposure of the system to climate fluctuations or their impacts (e.g., by restricting development in a flood plain) Reduce the system’s sensitivity (e.g., by requiring homes in the flood plain to be built on stilts Increase the adaptability of the system to deal with the effects of climate fluctuations (by providing education about climate risks to encourage relocation or insurance payouts to flooded residents to rebuild their homes)

14 Building Capacity.... Building Adaptive Capacity Addressing institutional, legal, cultural, technical, fiscal and other barriers Activities can be taken independent of specific climate projections Two-Pronged Approach for Adaptation:

15 Examples of Building Adaptive Capacity Develop (and update) a strategy to guide adaptation activities in your organization/community Increase outreach and education to stakeholders Increase training opportunities and access to technologies that support adaptation needs Increase partnerships with organizations that can support adaptation needs Identify and address regulatory, institutional, and other barriers to adaptation planning

16 .....and Delivering Action Building Adaptive Capacity Addressing institutional, legal, cultural, technical, fiscal and other barriers Activities can be taken independent of specific climate projections Delivering Adaptive Actions Implementing actions to address specific climate vulnerabilities Choice and timing of some actions may depend on specifics of the climate projections Two-Pronged Approach:

17 Examples of Delivering Adaptation Actions Increase water conservation measures Strengthen dikes and levees where appropriate Restore critical habitat for climate-sensitive species Plant tree species known to have a broad range of tolerances Improve the use of early warning systems for extreme heat events Increase use of setbacks or rolling easements for coastal land uses

18 Swinomish Indian Tribal Community: Climate Change Initiative Focused on impacts related to: sea level rise, storm surge, wildfire risk, extreme heat, changes in habitat Priority actions include (time frame if funded) : – Delineating coastal protection zones (1-3 yrs) – Evaluate/study alternatives & solutions for impacts to sensitive coastal resources (shellfish, etc.) (3-5 yrs) – Establish dike maintenance authority and program for short-term support shoreline diking, where appropriate (3-5 yrs) – Establish/promote new reservation-wide program for wildfire risk mitigation (1-3 yrs) – Coordinate with local jurisdictions on regional access/mobility preservation (1-3 yrs)

19 City of Olympia: Planning for Sea Level  Looking at implications for the storm sewer & combined storm/sanitary sewer system  Invested in geological monitoring equipment to monitor land subsidence or uplifting  Consolidating # of stormwater outfalls (from 14 to 8) to reduce the number of possible entry points for marine water to flow into downtown  Analyzing potential shoreline sea walls/barriers  Incorporating sea rise issues in Comprehensive Plan and Shoreline Master Plan revisions

20 Zoning rules and regulations Taxation (including tax incentives) Building codes/design standards Utility rates/fee setting Public safety rules and regulations Issuance of bonds Infrastructure development Permitting and enforcement Best management practices Outreach and education Emergency management powers Partnership building with other communities General Implementation Tools

21 Key questions… Will the actions meeting your preparedness goals? Is the action robust under a range of climate change scenarios? Is the action flexible itself, and does it increase flexibility in how a planning area is managed? Can the action be implemented and in what time frame? Is the action cost-effective? Additional factors… Are there unique “windows of opportunity” for implementing a particular action? Is the action equitable? Will the action decrease the risk of losing unique environmental or cultural resources? Will the action address a risk for which there is greater scientific confidence? Choosing and Prioritizing Adaptation Activities

22 Increase public awareness of climate change and projected impacts Develop and maintain technical capacity to prepare for climate change impacts “Mainstream” information about climate change vulnerabilities, risks, and preparedness into planning, policy, and investment decisions Increase the adaptive capacity of built, natural, and human systems in your community. Strengthen community partnerships that reduce vulnerability and risk. Guiding Principals for Planning

23 Dealing with Uncertainty We rarely have perfect information. Uncertainty is everywhere. – Should I buy earthquake insurance? – Should I change jobs? – How long will this recession last? Somehow we manage… – Identify options, – Build theories, – Evaluate risk, – Learn from experience, – Rely on experts/peers Thanks to Tom Pagano, USDA NRCS, for much of this slide

24 Where Are the Major Uncertainties in Modeling Future Climate Change? Some aspects of the climate system are random and therefore unpredictable (e.g., influence of volcanic eruptions on global climate) Future greenhouse gas emissions Estimates of climate sensitivity to a doubling in CO2 – Absent any feedback mechanisms: ~ 2°F – With feedback mechanisms: 3.6°F to 8°F – Changes in low cloud cover are a key feedback mechanism with high uncertainty

25 At its core, planning for climate change is about risk management How might (INSERT YOUR CONCERN HERE) affect my community? What are the consequences of those impacts? What steps can be taken to reduce the consequences?

26 “No regrets” strategies Provides benefits now with or without climate change “Low regrets” strategies Provide climate change benefits for little additional cost or risk “Win-win” or “Co-benefit” strategies Reduce climate change impacts while providing other environmental, social, or economic benefits Look to implement Planning for Uncertainty

27 Planning for Climate Change Anticipate changes. Accept that the future climate will be substantially different than the past. Use scenario based planning over long time scales to evaluate options rather than the historical record. Expect surprises and plan for flexibility and robustness in the face of uncertain changes rather than counting on one approach. Plan for the long haul. Where possible, make adaptive responses and agreements “self tending” to avoid repetitive costs of intervention as impacts increase over time.

28 QUESTIONS? Climate Impacts Group Lara Whitely Binder


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