Climate change adaptation planning to policy: Critical considerations and challenges
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While climate change is a global phenomenon, the activities that contribute to climate change and its impacts are inherently local. Accumulating evidence within national and UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments (IPCC, 2013 and 2014), special reports (IPCC, 2012) and from recent extreme events indicates that all countries have elements of society, economy and environment that are vulnerable to a variable and changing climate. According to the IPCC, global surface temperature change for the end of the twenty-first century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels, with warming projected to continue beyond 2100. Warming and precipitation changes will be much more pronounced at different locations (IPCC, 2013). Continued variability, shifts in seasons, and climate extremes – such as heat waves and more frequent and intense precipitation events – will continue to cause harm. Climate change manifests through two different time dimensions: those over the long-term and those that occur abruptly. While it is easier to investigate the potential impacts of climate hazards and extreme weather events (acute hazards such as typhoons, heat spells or severe storms that last only for a short period), slow-onset events (long-term, gradual changes to an area’s average precipitation, temperature and seasons) such as drought and sea level can be just as detrimental or beneficial as the more flashy events. These types of changes can exceed thresholds, sensitivities and coping mechanisms for a group of people or system, and cause a cascade of impacts detrimental or beneficial to other groups or systems. The impacts of these projected changes are expected to be many and serious for both natural and human systems. The core systems (e.g. agriculture, electricity generation and water, among others) upon which humanity depends for livelihoods, safety and well-being are exposed and sensitive to being affected by climate variability1 and change. Around the world, socio-economic development has sometimes increased vulnerability. This is due to increasing demographic pressures and ageing populations, as well as resource-use pressures and previous policy choices made in pursuit of economic growth and development. This chapter provides an overview of current ideas and practices around adaptation planning processes, as well as the movement from these to develop adaptation policies and actions.
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