Phase 3 – Assess

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PHASE 3:

Assess

Objective: Phase three is the data collection phase. This phase is critical for building climate change literacy around the rationale for adaptation and mitigation. Onboard support to help collect the necessary data identified in Step 1.3 including regional climate data, a risk and vulnerability assessment, and both corporate and community emissions inventories. A key feature of the LCR process is the co-evaluation of adaptation and mitigation data to reveal key synergies and trade-offs and identify strategic opportunities to advance co-benefits such as equity, health, and biodiversity. 

What is co-evaluation?

LCR co-evaluation is the process of evaluating risk and vulnerability and emissions data concurrently. Co-evaluation can prevent contradictions between risk and emissions reduction actions, identify synergies and trade-offs between the two, and advance co-benefits in a coordinated manner. Consider how hazards can drive energy and emissions profiles, for example, the increased use of air conditioning during heat waves. Or, the ways that adaptation strategies can drive or reduce emissions profiles, for instance, hard drainage expansion can drive emissions, while natural asset enhancement can reduce them. Capturing these drivers and their trade-offs in emissions forecasts will provide far more realistic opportunities to advance toward zero carbon goals, while ensuring resilience and sustainability over time.

Step 3.1: Analyze Climate Projections and Impacts (see page 57 of the LCR Handbook)

  • Collect best available climate projections, paying particular attention to the worst-case scenario, but considering all other scenarios. Using worst case scenarios (RCP 8.5) is best for preparedness and planning. Still, it is important to showcase how reducing emissions and rapidly decarbonizing to build towards provincial, national, and international targets aims to shift the scenarios by 2050 and 2100, minimizing projected climate impacts into the future. 
  • Identifying regional climate impacts (e.g., temperature) and hazards (e.g., extreme heat) and assessing existing community vulnerabilities and exposure to impacts helps to contextualize projected climate risks for infrastructure, populations, and ecosystems. Identifying and evaluating these risks is the basis of Workshop 2.
  • LCR Tip: Determine how equity will be considered in all aspects of the LCR process. It is important to continually and iteratively assess how climate risks will disproportionately impact certain residents, groups, and neighbourhoods (e.g., the elderly, marginalized, and low income populations, etc.) and examine the ways that climate solutions can advance climate justice and equity, while reducing risk and emissions. 
  • Keep the Momentum: The data collected in this step is essential for Workshop 2: Risk & Vulnerability Assessment and Response Options
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3.1 Step Check

Best available climate projections have been collected. Regional climate impacts and hazards are identified to form the basis of Workshop 2.

Step 3.2: Prepare Scenario Exercises and Impact Statements for Workshop 2 (page 60) 

  • Develop climate impact statements and worksheets to prepare for risk evaluations and prioritization with the Climate Action Team. Good impact statements have a climate-related hazard like extreme weather and a consequence or benefit, such as grid disruption or increased frequency and intensity of rainfall that overwhelms municipal drainage systems, causing flooding and property damage (see the Effective Impact Statements graphic below). Impact statements help staff and stakeholders think through existing vulnerabilities, considering likelihood and consequence scenarios to prioritize risks. Impact statements should consider, at a minimum, three risk areas: infrastructure, populations, and ecosystems.
  • LCR Tip: Consider how responses to climate impacts may also influence emissions profiles. Projected climate impacts such as extreme heat and more frequent flooding –and our responses to them, such as air conditioning or protective infrastructure– are expected to influence future emissions.
  • Keep the Momentum: Start considering low carbon adaptation responses that would work in the community. For instance, nature-based solutions like protecting and expanding riparian zones and foreshores, help to retain and absorb water, minimizing flood risks, sequestering carbon, and avoiding expanding emissions-intensive drainage systems. Done well, these solutions can also contribute to biodiversity and recreation.

Effective Impact Statements

Impact statements help workshop participants think through community vulnerabilities and risks in infrastructure, populations and ecosystems. An impact statement must be clear, specific, relate to a singular hazard, and highlight an associated consequence or benefit from that hazard. A specific hazard will have multiple impact statements to reflect its varied consequences and benefits. Good impact statements have both a climate-related hazard or change and a consequence or benefit. Above is a sample taken from the Port Moody process (Mills, 2019). 

 

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3.2 Step Check

Impact statements and scenario exercises that are relevant to the community have been developed for Workshop 2.

Step 3.3: Host Workshop 2: Risk and Vulnerability Assessment and Response Options (page 64) 

  • In Workshop 2, work with consultants to lead the Climate Action Team through a Risk and Vulnerability Assessment. Share projected climate impacts and hazards with the Climate Action Team, then, using the planned impact statements exercises from Step 3.2, break into thematic groups (e.g., infrastructure, parks, health, etc.) an identify existing vulnerabilities and exposures to climate impacts and hazards (also developed in Step 3.2). Keep in mind that increasing exposure, such as by allowing permitting in floodplains or hillsides, intensifies risks and damages over time. The goal is to identify, evaluate, and prioritize key infrastructure, population, and ecosystem risks to the community. See page 64 of the LCR Handbook to learn more about Workshop 2. 
  • LCR Tip: It is important to remind participants that the goal here is to explore LCR synergies and trade-offs; promoting them to brainstorm low carbon adaptation solutions. 
  • Keep the Momentum: After Workshop 2, compile the data and share the results back to the Climate Action Team.
  • Use Workshop 2 to achieve the following outcomes:
    • Share climate projections and potential impacts with the Climate Action Team.
    • Use impact statements to brainstorm key climate exposures and vulnerabilities in relevant thematic areas.
    • Evaluate likelihood and consequences of climate impacts and prioritize risks (use the standard risk matrix on page 64 to help with this). 
    • Brainstorm adaptation responses that could help reduce risks in key areas.
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3.3 Step Check

Workshop 2 is complete and a list of preliminary adaptation responses across thematic areas has been compiled.

 

Step 3.4: Produce and Emissions Inventory and Forecast (page 70) 

  • The goal of Step 3.4 is to produce and/or update corporate and community energy and emissions inventories to better understand opportunities to reduce emissions. This information be used in Workshop 3. Determining sources of emissions within the community and forecasting future energy demand and supply and emissions profiles using diverse scenarios, will be important to understand strategic mitigation opportunities. It is also important to consider how responses to climate impacts (e.g., use of air conditioning in heat waves) and adaptation responses (e.g. expanding drainage systems) from Workshop 2 are projected to influence emissions profiles over time. This information will be presented in Workshop 3 to help set aspirational emissions reduction targets and brainstorm mitigation strategies to achieve them.
  • LCR Tip: Encourage LCR thinking in emissions forecasting by asking these questions:
    • How will projected climate impacts influence emissions over time (e.g., increased frequency and intensity of heat waves growing energy demand for air conditioning)?
    • Based on priority risks identified in Step 3.3, how will current or projected adaptation actions influence emissions over time (e.g., building higher more carbon-intensive infrastructure, drainage, dikes, sea walls, etc. to protect against flooding)?
  • Keep the Momentum: The corporate and community emissions data gathered in this step will be shared with the Climate Action Team in Workshop 3. For ease, group the risk and vulnerability assessment and emissions inventory and reduction work together into common focus areas, such as governance, land-use, transportation, buildings, waste, etc.
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3.4 Step Check

Obtain corporate and community emissions data for Workshop 3.

Step 3.5: Host Workshop 3: Emissions Sources and Response Options (page 72)  

  • Workshop 3 brings the Climate Action Team up to speed on the corporate and community emissions inventories and forecasts. Clarify key areas for emission reduction opportunities and create space for brainstorming mitigation solutions. Make sure to consider the influence of climate hazards and adaptation strategies on emissions and ways to advance equity and other co-benefits. See page 72 of the LCR Handbook to learn more about Workshop 3.
  • LCR Tip: Identify nature-based solutions as a flagship LCR strategy. This includes the protection of existing natural assets and the design of green infrastructure solutions. Both strategies can be used to absorb excess rainfall and moderate temperatures–minimizing flood and heat risks and sequester carbon–helping avoid emissions intensive adaptation responses. Done well, these strategies can also advance biodiversity, recreation, health and well-being, and overall livability in the community.
  • Keep the Momentum: After the workshop, consolidate the information collected thus far, identifying priority climate risks and vulnerability, key emissions sources, and the brainstormed response strategies. This information lays the groundwork for Workshop 4, when the team will co-evaluate priority options for moving forward over 0-2, 2-5, and/or 5+ years. Align thematic areas from both adaptation and mitigation explorations and categorize responses into thematic areas to begin to identify synergies and trade-offs between solutions.
  • Use Workshop 3 to achieve the following outcomes:

    • Present corporate and community inventories.
    • In small groups, brainstorm key emissions reductions opportunities in key emission sectors (e.g., buildings, transportation, energy, waste, land-use, etc.).
    • Discuss how climate impacts and adaptation strategies will impact emissions over time.
    • Brainstorm mitigation actions while considering connections the ways responses either do or do not minimize climate risk and vulnerability and enhance equity.

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3.5 Step Check

Workshop 3 is complete and a preliminary list of integrated actions has been compiled.

Community Call Out

Case Study

Streamlining Building Standards: An Easy LCR Solution

Buildings are, in general, the second-largest source of emissions in Canadian communities after transportation. Buildings developed today will endure extreme weather events, higher temperatures, and more precipitation over their approximately 80-year life span. Building performance standards, such as B.C.’s ‘Energy Step Code’, aim to drive down emissions. However, ensuring the resilience of ew buildings and retrofitting investments over time may or may not be considered separately. BC Housing has developed the ‘Mobilizing Building Adaptation and Resilience Project’ to begin to explore green design standards to ensure longer-term return on investment. Governments can send strong signals to the development community by streamlining permit requirements.

As a result of the LCR approach, two partner communities are advancing building standards that incorporate resilience, energy efficiency, and decarbonization at the same time. The City of Port Moody has issues RFP’s for building and facilities audits and consultants that can perform both emissions and risk evaluations. The Tsleil-Waututh Nation is now considering ways to apply resilience, energy and emissions, and cultural design standards into the Nation’s new building laws. 

For a practical primer on why and how to do this, please see the Climate Change and Resilience for Buildings Primer by RDH Building Science and the B.C. Housing Research Centre.