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5 Climate Change Adaptation: The State of the Science INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS: WORKSHOP OBJECTIVES, CONCEPTS, AND DEFINITIONS Roger Kasperson Roger Kasperson, the panel chair, opened the workshop by noting that its goal is not to develop a research agenda, but rather to identify some areas in which the social and behavioral sciences already know enough to be helpful in developing societal responses to climate change. He noted that the workshop organizers had circulated a series of critical questions they would like the workshop to contribute to answering (see Box II-1). He described the planned organization of the workshop. First, it will assess the current state of knowledge. Second, it will discuss some of the efforts to address the issues through federal policy. Third, it will examine a series of case studies in several panel discussions. Last, the workshop participants will return to the initial questions and consider whether the community has any answers. Kasperson stated that he might be the most skeptical person about whether the adaptation community knows as much as it needs to know to assist societal efforts in this domain. He hopes the workshop can separate what is known from what participants would like to know. With respect to the relationship between science and decision making, Kasperson noted that there are two main metaphors. One is of a bridge, a pipeline, or a superhighway between science and practice. However, research and experience suggest that what exists looks more like a spider web, with multiple centers that move around. In Washington, people talk
6 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES FIGURE 5-1 A hypothetical web representing the relationships of science and deci- sion making. NOTE: DM = decision making. SOURCE: Roger Kasperson. Used with permission. repeatedly about a linear process that starts with the science and then ap- plies values at the end of a management process (if any funds still remain). Kasperson said that the process is actually much messier. He presented a hypothetical schematic to represent the metaphor of a web (see Figure 5-1). Webs may be expected to take very different forms for different cases. In- sights and ideas come out of science and go through a process of mediation by many diverse actors, with some of them disappearing and others being elevated in importance before decision makers ultimately act. There are simple webs, with strong linkages of science and decision making through what have been called boundary organizations. Some webs are complex and stable; others are dynamic and unstable, with actors appearing and disappearing. A complex and unstable web is probably de- scriptive of climate policyâand there is limited understanding of the shape or functioning of such webs.
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION ADDRESSING STRATEGIC AND INTEGRATION CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION Ian Burton (with the assistance of Thea Dickinson) Meteorological Service of Canada and University of Toronto Ian Burton began by observing that the topic of adaptation to everyday climate has been around for a long time under different guises. Adaptation to anthropogenic climate change is another matter. The short version of the story begins with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in 1992, which put adaptation to climate change onto the public agenda. Because that convention was focused on greenhouse gas emissions, it emphasized pollution control and mitigation, following the model used for addressing ozone depletion in the Montreal protocol. Thus, the scientists who advised politicians focused attention on pollution control. However, the developing countries that considered themselves most at risk and least responsible insisted that adaptation be written into the convention, and rich nations agreed to contribute to the costs. The problem was defined as adaptation to climate change, as opposed to adaptation to climate, and this distinction has hung up discussion ever since. The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report (Parry et al., 2007) defined adaptation in terms of âadjustment.â In this short story, adaptation to climate change was born in 1992 and was initially of concern to developing countries, which hoped for additional development assistance as a result. That perspective led to a lot of research on adaptation to climate change. The knowledge base can be defined broadly to include all of social science knowledge on the subject. There is a much longer tradition of research on adaptation to climate change in the global South than on adaptation in the rich countries. Policy developments on adaptation since 1992 include these milestones. The Kyoto protocol, adopted in 1997, imposed a 2 percent levy on agree- ments under the clean development mechanism to support adaptation. The Marrakesh accords of 2001 called for national adaptation plans of action in the 49 least developed countries. By the 2007 Bali conference, four âpil- larsâ of climate response were identified: (1) mitigation, (2) adaptation, (3) technology transfer, and (4) finance. At the Copenhagen meeting in 2009, there was a promise of substantial additional funding for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, up to $3 billion (U.S.) by 2012 and $100 billion per annum by 2020. One might reasonably ask whether there is any real chance that these promises will be kept. Meanwhile, there has been little progress on mitigation. Mitigation is now recognized as a problem of emerging economies as well as in the global North. There also has been a belated realization that developed countries
FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES share the risks of climate change. The earlier idea that mitigation is global but adaptation is local has collapsed. It is now widely recognized that ad- aptation needs national and international cooperation to succeed. Climate change also has been recognized as an issue of development and equity, not only a pollution issue. Synthesizing a statement of the knowledge base is certainly part of the way forward. But there is also a longer version of the story. Moving forward can start by looking back. The knowledge base did not start in 1992: when the idea of climate change adaptation became a focus of policy attention in 1992, the existing disaster risk management community was astonished and said it already had a lot to say. Much of the research in this area has been reviewed by Dennis Mileti in Disasters by Design (Mileti, 1999). As far back as 1945, Gilbert White said that while floods are acts of God, flood losses are the results of human choice. There was a great deal of knowledge about adaptation to climate before 1992, but most of it was based on the assumption of a stationary climate. There has been a systemic failure to deal with climate extremes as well as society could and should, even before climate change came into the picture. Climate variability and extremes had been considered in terms of events, from which social systems recover and return to normal; now sequences of events are considered, such as progressive series of droughts or floods or cyclones, as well as cumulative desiccation and sea level rise, rather than just isolated droughts and storms. This change in view has led to more of a focus on systemic risks and to thinking in longer terms about risk reduction rather than only about assistance for recovery. Disasters once were considered as humanitarian concerns to be dealt with one at a time; now there is an emerging idea that the recurrence of disasters is expectable and that they are a common responsibility. The two communities are now coming together. There is a deficit in attention to adaptation, even in wealthy countries. Despite the expansion of physical science knowledge, disaster losses are increasing globally. Efforts at natural hazards management, human adjust- ment, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation have not been successful. Can knowledge be better marshaled to address the adaptation deficit? Burton suggested talking about forensic disaster studies, asking,Who or what is responsible for disaster losses? Responsibility is widely dispersed. Rich people choose amenities over risk reduction, the poor often have little choice, and government assistance to victims of disasters can create moral hazards. What is known about flood insurance, and is there a credible as- sessment of how it works? A research proposal to look at this topic is be- ing sent to the International Congress of Scientific Unions and to national research councils. The research would look at climate risks the same way
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION that transportation analyses look at the causes of traffic accidents, to pin down responsibility. Perhaps this kind of analysis can be done for stationary climate, and then climate change can be added. Burton ended by saying that there are many challenges. Adaptation is local, but also regional, national, and global. It is multisectoral, so all the sectors must be part of any national adaptation strategy. An interagency task force may not be sufficient to address the problem, and a more inte- grated approach may be required. He reminded the audience not to forget mitigation. Adaptation choices may have important near-term benefits by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and generating other desired outcomes. They may also have adverse long-run consequences, including increased emissions. ADDRESSING BARRIERS AND SOCIAL CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION Neil Adger1 University of East Anglia Neil Adger addressed three issues: (1) the roles of the multiple actors that are adapting, from civil society to markets and government; (2) equity issues related to who is vulnerable and who makes adaptation decisions; and (3) barriers and limitations to implementation of adaptation measures. In looking at the future, people not only use scenarios and models but also observe adaptation and make inferences from past adaptations to variabil- ity in weather and climate. They can also learn from observing ongoing adaptations to anticipated climate change. The United Kingdom (UK) provides some good examples. There are efforts to build adaptive capacity, to regulate land and water for future use, and to implement some adaptive actions (e.g., coastal defense, as in the protecting the Thames estuary against anticipated risks to 2100). Actuaries are calculating insurance premiums for the future. There are also efforts to provide public good information to stakeholders through the UK Climate Impacts Programme. The UK Department of Health is doing planning for heat waves. In 2005, the Tyndall Centre identified 300 examples of adaptationâ mostly in governments at different levels, but many in the private sector as well. Government in the United Kingdom is in the vanguard of adaptation. If there are best practices in government or the private sector, however, it is 1 The presentation is available at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/hdgc/Addressing%20 Barriers%20and%20Social%20Challenges%20of%20Climate%20Change%20Adaption.pdf [accessed September 2010].
0 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES not yet clear if they get diffused. In fact, so far there are no assessment cri- teria for judging whether these adaptation efforts were effective. Research on diffusion of technology may offer models that can show how widespread the diffusion of adaptation will be. The issues affecting implementation of adaptation are cost, timing, power, responsibility, equity, and irreversibility of impacts (see Table 5-1). An obvious question is whether the first focus should be on trying to diffuse practices or on making sure they are effec- tive. Generally, anticipation is believed to cost less than adaptation after the fact. Adger noted that resilience and vulnerability are not antonyms. He distinguished three normative goals or principles for government interven- tion: protecting the most vulnerable (Rawls), efficient adaptation (Pareto optimality), and system resilience (rather than a focus on individual parts). He pointed out that if an ecological system is moving from one state to another, resilience could have a number of different end states. The idea of measuring vulnerability presumes a threshold of risk beyond which a population is vulnerable. There may be parts of a population that are vul- TABLE 5-1 Decision-Making Questions Issue Key Question Outcome of Indecision Cost Who bears the costs of Costs may be shared unevenly in adaptation? terms of willingness or ability to pay Timing When is action taken? Anticipatory adaptation may be cheaper: ex post recovery has greater social costs Power Who makes the decisions? Inaction or stalemate between advocates of national and local views Responsibility Who takes action? Responsibility inevitably devolved to individuals Equity What kinds of change are Unacceptable risks are imposed on acceptable? the least powerful people and on public or private infrastructure Irreversibility How are irreversible impacts Increased economic cost of future considered? options lost; asymmetry in loss aversion SOURCE: Amended from Tompkins et al. (2008, Table 2). Used with permssion.
1 CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION nerable and a proportion that is not. If so, it makes sense to concentrate on the vulnerable proportion of the population. It is possible to measure vulnerability by the proportion of a population that is vulnerable or by the distance of people from the threshold. Social science has a lot to say about vulnerability, but Adger questioned whether there will be the luxury of time. Fairly radical adaptation is likely to be necessary. He noted a new realism about the need to plan for adapta- tion to a greatly changed climate. He also noted that adaptation may be limited because people have diverse and incommensurable values, because foresight is uncertain, and because people place intrinsic value on current places and identities. Adaptation is also constrained by social characteris- tics, individual behavior, and other barriers. Adger spoke about the potential and limitations of markets for re- sponding to climate change. Critical adaptation needs concern water re- sources, property loss, human health, nature conservation, and cultural heritage. Markets might solve problems at the top of this list, where they work fairly well, but less so further down in the list. Citing work by Farber (2007), Adger said that markets work better for âgeographicâ impactsâ water, coasts, habitatsâbut not well for diffuse impacts (e.g., on global food systems) or for catastrophic climate changes at the global level. The issues that limit markets are those that involve social externalities (effects on communities or places) and loss of nonmaterial assets. The perceptions of the vulnerable affect the ability to adapt. Research by Adger and colleagues (Abrahamson et al., 2009; Wolf et al., 2010) has found that among elderly people in the United Kingdom who are vulnerable to heat waves, low self-efficacy reduces action to adapt. For elderly people living alone, their ability to live independently was important to them, and many denied their vulnerability by denying that they are elderly. He pointed out that heat wave planning will not work if targeted to the vulnerable, if they deny that they are vulnerable. Adger noted as well that many communities will resist planning for cli- mate change and instead will actively lobby for protection against it. Some UK coastal communities, for example, actively resist sensible plans for adaptation. What matters to them is control over the process of planning their communityâs response. Well-functioning property markets may create incentives to adapt by devaluing vulnerable properties, but adaptation still will not be easy because of community identity and other issues. Adger identified three emerging issues: (1) Can people learn about planning to adapt from coping with crises? (2) Individual perceptions of resilience and vulnerability are drivers of social processes of adaptation. (3) Social inertia in the form of strong attachments to the past or to current conditions can be a significant barrier to adaptation.
2 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES DISCUSSION In comments at the end of the session, Anthony Janetos mentioned a Heinz Center report on what is known about flood insurance. He said that the U.S. national flood insurance program is nothing like what the industry would create; it is more of an income distribution program. Helen Ingram asked about how to shift the focus from particular disasters to the larger, systemic picture. Ashwini Chhatre asked about current maladaptations that need to be undone, such as property development on the Florida coast and irrigation in Californiaâs Central Valley. He also asked how to address silent disasters that are not in the headlines. Roberto Sanchez-Rodriguez expressed surprise at the lack of mention of the structure of governance. He asked what provides stability in the webs Kasperson mentioned. In response, Burton commented on insurance internationally, noting that there has been talk of an international public-private partnership, and that there are experiments with new insurance products in developing coun- tries. Insurance could be used not only to spread risks but also to create incentives for adaptation. He said that people need to learn from handling extreme events and to build this learning into planning for âcreepingâ di- sasters. Burton said that disasters are part of everyday life, and that what makes disasters serious is embedded in society. People need therefore to look at them in social terms, identifying how to reduce them in a precau- tionary manner, cope with them when they occur, respond to them after they happen, and absorb and use lessons for future events. Adger responded by underlining Janetosâs point that government inter- ventions may not help improve adaptation. Societies are bound by demands to maintain the status quo. For example, drought recovery programs in Australia took a lot of blame for damage from fires because the government was subsidizing farmers to stay in dry areas with high fire risk. Australians like their rural populations and will pay to support them even though it is maladaptive. Adger said that the United Kingdom is trying to get away from learn- ing from disasters by being more proactive. The UK government is very proud of its anticipatory planning for the Thames for 2100, but it is hard to bring the population along. Planning agencies are planning for 2 mil- lion new houses, many of them in vulnerable areas in the Thames gateway. Adger does not think there is an optimal governance approach for adapta- tion. In the United Kingdom, for example, local government structures face different cultural identity issues. In the Orkney Islands, people looked at climate change as an opportunity for more local control; in other local com- munities, the dominant view was that the problems should be addressed nationally. Kasperson noted that systems ecologists have pointed out that risk
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION management interventions often serve to keep a system from moving to a new and more resilient state. He asked how policy can get out of that quandary. Maria Carmen Lemos pointed out that to address this, one needs to know the desirability of the state one is moving intoâand people either do not know what their collective preferences are, or they do not agree. Thomas Dietz noted that people want to preserve their sense of place but have a short time horizon. They try to preserve what they personally re- member, not an ancient past. He added that there is not much knowledge about this problem. Maria Blair said that people fail to recognize the concept of social inertia. The whole concept of adaptation suggests change, which people often oppose. She suggested that allowing for processes with local control or engagement might address this problem. Adger noted that his examples of social inertia focus on things people do not want to change. On the mitigation side, however, there may be support for changes if they are seen as ways to improve welfare. For example, the UK âtransition townsâ movement tries to make towns more resilient in a future after âpeak oilâ by increasing local food production. However, many people affected by weather-related risks see a relation to climate change, yet they are not thereby motivated to reduce their emissions. Richard Andrews pointed out that major change usually happens dur- ing windows of opportunity. Posthurricane planning, for example, can pro- vide such a policy window. Planning can be based on the recognition that a community cannot afford to rebuild just the way it was and has to become more adaptive. It is important to be consciously ready in advance to move when those moments arise. Burton noted that in postdisaster situations, however, there is always tremendous pressure to return to the status quo. Andrews said that Florida, for example, has been maladaptive in having the state become the primary insurer of coastal property when market rates became politically unacceptable, whereas in North Carolina, state policy has struck a less morally hazardous balance that combines increased coastal insurance rates with a safety valve to assess all state property owners for shares of losses above a high threshold of economic catastrophe. Burton suggested that mitigation allows many more options at an individual level, whereas most adaptation requires collective action, at least at the com- munity level. Christopher Farley questioned the value of terms like âmaladaptation.â The physical systems are extremely complex, and society has put policies in place. He said that during the 1990s timber wars, the U.S. Forest Service could have the ârightâ answer from the science, but society could insist on action another way. He said it is important to create systems and processes that allow society to make decisions with awareness of what the impacts are. He also suggested that there is no way to draw the line between who
4 FACILITATING CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSES is vulnerable and who is notâin fact, the insistence of many elderly people on not defining themselves as âvulnerableâ is very positive and adaptive in many waysâand that negotiation might be needed to draw such a line. Jamie Kruse noted that the time scale of adaptation has to match the changing conditions. âSocial inertiaâ is a mismatch between what a group, such as the workshop participants, believes to be the right choices and what society is doing.