The Science/Policy Interface: Climate Assessment and Adaptation

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1 Adaptation Canada 2016 Ottawa, Ontario April 12, 2016 The Science/Policy Interface: Climate Assessment and Adaptation Kathy Jacobs University of Arizona Director, Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science

2 Why is Adaptation Important? We have three choices: mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We are going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be? The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be. John Holdren, Office of Science and Technology Policy Acclimatise

3 America s Climate Choice: Adaptation and Mitigation Should we act proactively in anticipation of change and mobilize to reduce the effects, or simply prepare to react as the impacts arrive? We will adapt but at what cost? National Academies of Sciences America s Climate Choices

4 Challenges of Climate Change for Decision Makers Knowing what to adapt to especially if outside the envelope of prior experience Non-stationarity is a new paradigm: Access to timely, useful scientific information at the right scales is exceedingly rare Trends vs abrupt change/extreme events Cascading effects

5 Managing Climate Risk Managing risk requires: understanding both likelihood and consequence of future events understanding intensity and duration of future climate drivers AND understanding underlying sources of vulnerability, including social, institutional and physical vulnerabilities. 5

6 Managing Risk: Who makes decisions? What is at Risk? Multiple Actors at Multiple Scales Individuals Non-governmental Organizations Businesses, corporations Utilities Universities Cities and towns Watersheds Regional planning States, Tribes Federal Governments International Systems that Interact at Multiple Scales Water Energy Communications Forestry Agriculture Coastal Management Fisheries Transportation Etc. 6

7 Managing Risk: Connecting Science and Policy Many frames for understanding the interface between science and policy, including understanding: the roles of institutions, perceptions of risk, ways of learning, knowing, and engaging, the decision context.

8 Acknowledging legitimate differences in perspective and training

9 Assessments are a critical foundation for climate policy and for adaptation efforts

10 Assessments and Adaptation Adaptation is iterative risk management, involving identification of current and anticipated impacts and vulnerabilities, and responses to changes in fundamental scientific understanding. 10

11 Forests and Carbon Sequestration, NCA3 Assessments and Adaptation Proactive adaptation means anticipating and preparing for future conditions It requires rigorous observations of changes as they occur and monitoring and evaluation of a range of conditions over time. It also requires projections of future conditions.

12 Assessments and Adaptation Adaptive management processes depend on ongoing assessments of changing conditions as well as evaluations of whether adaptation and mitigation options are having their desired effect. Location of Potential Forestry Biomass Resources - NCA3 12

13 Assessments and Adaptation Assessment is therefore a critical component of successful adaptation, and can contribute to a variety of climate response strategies as well as questions about vulnerability, impacts, scale, equity, timing, and priorities for scientific investigation. 13

14 US Global Change Research Program Global Change Research Act (1990): To provide for development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. 13 Federal Departments & Agencies + Executive Office of the President More information at 14

15 Previous National Climate Assessments Focused Primarily on Science Questions Climate Change Impacts on the United States (2000) Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009)

16 The Third National Climate Assessment Goal Enhance the ability of the United States to anticipate, mitigate, and adapt to changes in the global environment. Vision Advance an inclusive, broad-based, and sustained process for assessing and communicating scientific knowledge of the impacts, risks, and vulnerabilities associated with a changing global climate in support of decision-making across the United States.

17 What is new about the Third NCA? Broad engagement strategy, 300 authors, 60 member advisory committee Traceable accounts line of sight between data and conclusions Decision-making support in a risk-based framework Assesses progress in response activities Fosters sustained scientific process Electronic delivery: Web-based and transparent

18 NCA Risk & Decision-Support Framing Importance of underlying vulnerabilities Inter-sectoral links and cascading effects Water, Energy & Land Biogeochemical Cycles Tribal Resources Land Use & Land Cover Rural Communities Urban Systems, Infrastructure and Vulnerability Coastal Zones, Development and Ecosystems Oceans and Marine Resources new topic for NCA Intersecting systems can either increase resilience or result in catastrophic failure - cascading effects through systems

19 Responses: Meeting the Challenge Decision Support Mitigation Adaptation Research Needs The Sustained Assessment Process FEMA photo by Wendell A. Davis J Dennis Schroeder, NREL Proehl Studios/Corbis

20 Adaptation as Reframing Managers make decisions with imperfect information all the time why is climate change different? Adaptive management deliberate learning by doing Co-benefits it is not all about climate change, justify action by addressing other vulnerabilities Small institutional and legal changes can make a big difference, eg eliminating conflicting mandates Potential for partnerships and economic opportunity Climate change as an excuse to do integrated planning, eg NYC or do things that make sense anyway

21 Reframing: a portfolio approach to adaptation in the water sector Integrated Water Management matching quality to use Groundwater management/aquifer storage and recovery Conservation - water use efficiency Stormwater capture and storage Recycle, reuse wastewater Reservoir reoperation Desalination Green infrastructure

22 Reframing: Mainstreaming adaptation and mitigation into decision processes US Infrastructure is aging and needs replacement. Reevaluate engineering assumptions re: potential for more extreme events and longer-term droughts Much of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 hasn t been built yet

23 Reframing: The Watergy Perspective Most water technology solutions are energy-intensive: irrigated agriculture, pumping groundwater, inter-basin transfers, desalination, cloud seeding, dry cooling Energy-intensive options will be less attractive in the future. Conservation has double benefits: it saves water and it saves energy.

24 Reframing: Scenario Planning Expand planning scenarios to bracket a wider range of future outcomes (include both supply and demand impacts) Include social and physical factors that create the context within which drought/flood impacts will be felt 4,000,000 Participatory scenario processes help integrate social and physical factors Acre-Feet 3,500,000 3,000,000 2,500,000 2,000,000 1,500,000 1,000, ,

25 REFRAMING: CO-BENEFITS

26 Defining Success: Are we focusing our investments on measurable improvements in human and environmental welfare?

27 The path forward: Assessing adaptation outcomes Costs and benefits of action vs inaction (who are the winners and losers?) Potential for adverse consequences of decisions, including unanticipated consequences at the interface of adaptation and mitigation Monitoring for effectiveness what are the metrics? Deciding when to move from low regrets options to more significant/higher investment options Environmental justice and equity issues 27

28 US Federal Adaptation Action A slow start, but now lots of momentum!

29 Obama Administration Climate Adaptation/Resilience Initiatives Four Executive Orders President s Climate Action Plan Climate Data Initiative/Resilience Toolkit Resilient Disaster Recovery Policies State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force International Initiatives China, India, Mexico Department of Defense Directive on Adaptation and Mitigation National Climate Assessment supports all of these activities 29

30 Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions/University of Arizona Themes/Grand Challenges Bridging the gap between science and decision making Managing risk in a complex, interdisciplinary and multisectoral context Supporting transformational adaptation and preparing for extreme climate and weather events Finding synergies among adaptation and mitigation strategies to promote sustainability 30 30

31 June, 2013: President Obama We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations 31

32

33 Adaptation Science Challenges Uncertainties in estimating the nature, timing and magnitude of climate impacts Long term, multi-generational issue: short term costs vs long term benefits? Attribution issues Lack of data regarding costs and benefits of alternative adaptation options at multiple scales Need for web-based data and clearinghouses Need for better coordination of regional and national efforts in support of adaptation Lack of science translation capacity 33

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