Climate Scientist Speaks to the Need for Adaptation

Dr. Paul Kovacs, Executive Director for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, speaking to the Toronto Star from the Climate Change Adaptation summit hosted by the Ontario Government recently spoke of the need for adaptation.

“All of the good things that we are trying to do with respect to reducing our emissions will matter going down the road 100 years, 150 or 200 years, but if you want to do anything that reduces the adverse impact of climate change in the next 50 years … it’s adapting,”
~ Dr. Paul Kovacs

To read the full article, please click here.


Review of “Adaptation to Climate Change: Where do we go from Bali?”

Review of article by Sven Harmeling published in Tiempo Climate Newswatch, March 2008.

In this commentary, Sven Harmeling of Germanwatch proposes a number of ways to move discussions forward on adaptation issues following the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali in December 2007. He considers the role that the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWGLCA) could play. The AWGLCA is holding its first meeting from 31 March – 4 April 2008, in Bangkok, Thailand, in parallel with the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol.


Adaptation and Mitigation Must Join Forces

Living in British Columbia provides many stark examples of the impacts of climate change. Impacts ranging from the retreat of glaciers throughout the Coast Mountains to the devastating impact of the pine beetle in huge swaths of our forests speak to an ever-more-urgent need to address climate change.Traditionally, efforts surrounding climate change have taken one of two approaches: adaptation or mitigation.

Adaptation attempts to lessen civilization’s vulnerabilities to currently occurring and future un-preventable climate change.Mitigation attempts to reduce the negative impacts of climate change by reducing production of greenhouse gases.In the past these two focuses have worked in parallel tracts with little overlap between the majority of practitioners.More recently, recognition has begun to emerge of the importance of employing these two strategies in concert.

Dr. Stewart Cohen, Researcher for the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division of Environment Canada and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES), is leading an effort with fellow IRES professor, John Robinson, to link climate change adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.

The Land Trust Alliance of BC has recently released their report “Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change through the Conservation of Nature” authored by Sara J. Wilson and Richard J. Hebda.Sara is a leading Canadian researcher on Ecological Economics, which is an emerging field that values nature’s services. Richard is the Curator of Botany and Earth History Royal BC Museum, and an adjunct associate professor, Biology, Schools of Earth and Ocean Sciences and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.The findings of their report state that the immense stores of carbon in existing ecosystems are of great importance for both mitigation and adaptation to climate change, especially compared to the potential of removing atmospheric carbon by planting new forests. Specifically they focus on four points.First that carbon storage in young forests takes a long time, especially in terms of replacing lost carbon. Second that because there is so little time to slow global warming, the priority should be on preventing carbon losses and conserving the carbon stores that exist. Third that by protecting existing ecosystems there will be a wide range of habitat to provide connecting corridors for plant and animal migration as the climate warms. Finally that the protection of intact ecosystems provides resiliency for ecosystems and the communities that depend upon them.

The municipality of Delta, British Columbia has intimately linked climate change adaptation and mitigation in their Climate Change Initiative.The two main goals of their program are: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from municipal buildings, fleet vehicles and operations; and to adapt municipal infrastructure and emergency plans to ensure their community is well prepared for and protected against climate change impacts.

These initiatives highlight the evolving thinking surrounding climate change mitigation and adaptation, and their relationship and importance to each other.We have reached a period when truly successful climate change programs will fully consider, value and address both adaptation and mitigation and when neither adaptation nor mitigation programs considered alone will be as effective as a joint program.


ACT’s First Conference – Communities in Jeopardy: Plant, Animal and Human – a Success

On March 31st and April 1st ACT brought together a wide range of expertise from the fields of biodiversity and rural resource-dependent communities to provide input and feedback on the development of policy recommendations in these areas with respect to climate change adaptation in British Columbia.The results of these meetings will be used by the ACT research team, lead by Jon O’Riordan, former Deputy Minister of Sustainable Resource Management for the BC Provincial Government and Adjunct Professor of the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, to inform their policy recommendations surrounding communities in jeopardy, due out in approximately three months time.

The conference opened with presentations from Jim Snetsinger, Chief Forester for the Forest Stewardship Division, BC Ministry of Forests, who spoke on current adaptation challenges and responses in BC forests, and Lara Whitely-Binder, an outreach specialist at the Climate Impacts Group of the University of Washington, who presented on current and projected climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest.Following these presentations, participants broke-out into groups to discuss what they saw as the major climate change adaptation issues in their various areas or sectors.

Highlights from the afternoon included presentations by Trevor Murdock, Associate Professor with the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria, about the Report to the Province on Biodiversity – local impact models; by Tory Stevens, Protected Areas Ecologist with the Parks and Protected Areas Branch of the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, on the Report to the Province on Biodiversity – species impacts; and by Robin Sydneysmith, lead author of the BC Chapter of the NRCAN 2007 National Assessment on Impacts and Adaptation, who gave an overview of the BC portion of the federal assessment report.

A public dialogue took place Monday evening in a town hall style that saw a diverse range of experts share short vignettes about climate change adaptation and communities in jeopardy, and then engage with the audience through question and answer, with questions originating both from the expert’s panel and the audience.The expert’s panel was composed of: Donna Barton, Mayor of 100 Mile House and Chair of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Beetle Action Coalition; Stewart Cohen, Researcher for the Adaptation and Impacts Research Division of Environment Canada and Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability; Dawn Morrison, Coordinator of the Indigenous People’s Food Network; Jon O’Riordan; and Gary Zorn, Proprietor of Eco-Tours BC.

The second day of the conference saw presentations by Kindy Gosal, of the Columbia Basin Trust, who spoke on community adaptation to climate change impacts in the Columbia Basin; Michael Dunn, of the Land Trust Alliance BC, who spoke on adaptation and mitigation through conservation of nature; and Donna Barton, who highlighted municipal policy challenges and achievements developed during the district’s efforts to adapt to the pine beetle infestation.Participants focused their discussions during the day around the viable policy alternatives that could be used to address the various challenges highlighted throughout the two-day workshop.The ACT research team will now work with these recommendations.Please check back here for updates of their progress.


Welcome to the ACT Blog

ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team) is a non-profit policy planning initiative that is designed to develop timely options for sustainable adaptation to climate change impacts.

In order to do this we are convening national stakeholder and researcher sessions around 9 key themes (Communities in Jeopardy, Extreme Weather Events and Natural Hazards, Fresh Water Supply, Energy Production, Food Adaptation, Population Displacement, Health Risks, New Technologies, and Sea Level Rise) and producing policy documents targeting governments and decision-makers based upon these sessions’ recommendations and the research of our research assistants.

We have designed the ACT Blog to act as an adaptation information centre, providing relevant, accurate and timely information and news around climate change adaptation.We hope you make use of these resources and welcome your comments, suggestions for posts and contributions. Enjoy!

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