Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change presents major risks and adaptation challenges. Much of the climate debate to-date has been around mitigation policy and carbon management. However, it is clear that the impacts of climate change are already occuring, and in some cases, are already severe.

Adaptation in Australia

Australia is often referred to as the wealthy country most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, because the continent is already so arid, because our population clings to the coast and some of our major cities already experience relatively limited rainfall. The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) conducts research in several streams on adaptation in Australia, including in primary industries, biodiversity and settlements. Visit NCCARF to find the latest research.

Climate Change is already causing rising seas in the Torres Strait, where  a regional organisation of councils have written to the Prime Minister requesting funding to pay for urgently needed capital works to protect settlements there from the incursion of the ocean. You can visit their website to read the letter, sign a petition in support of the funding, and read information about the impacts of climate change in the Torres Strait.

The CSIRO runs the National Adaptation Flagships, which also conducts research into how Australian communities, ecosystems, industries and settlements can be made resilient to or be helped to adapt to the impacts of climate change, including declining rainfal, rising seas, changes in the spread of disease and weeds and much more.

In October 2011, the 3Pillars Network will host the second Climate Change Adaptation National Congress in Melbourne. Information is here.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency conducted a national coastal risk assessment, a biodiveristy vulnerability assessment and studies into the impact of climate change on World Heritage sites as part of the National Adapatation Framework. More information on all of these initiatives is available from DCCEE.

Adapation in developing countries

Developing countries are generally more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, particularly Least Developed Countries and small island developing states. Island states in the Pacific are already building sea-walls and undertaking long term evacuation planning as contingencies for rising sea levels. It's an emotional subject for many, as planning for the total evacuation of your country amounts to the annhiliation of your way of life and your culture. To understand the very stark challenges faced by small island developing states, read this address to the United Nations Security Council by the President of Nauri, Marcus Stephen. 

Many developing countries have prepared National Adaptation Programmes of Action, that set out diverse plans from changing cropping to suit lower ranfall, to building sea-walls. In addition, the countries that are members of the UNFCCC decided in Cancun in December 2010 to create a new Adaptation Committee to oversee and support the development of adaptation planning in developing countries.

The cost of providing for adaptation to the unavoidable impacts of climate change in developing countries will be huge, and its acknowledged that the most vulnerable countries are also the countries that contributed the least to the pollution that is causing global warming and climate change. It is written into the Climate Change Convention that rich countries like Australia will provide financial and other support for adaptation. In part, so far, this is done through the Least Developed Country Fund and the Adaptation Fund (which recieves 2% of the revenue from the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism), but much more finance needs to be mobilised, including through the new Green Climate Fund.

If you would like further information about climate change adaptation or the financing of it, contact CANA.


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