Monday, July 2, 2012

Is climate change adaptation feasible?

A commentary by Rod Keenan in the Climate Spectator: With increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and no clear internationally-agreed path for emission reductions, we are faced with a global climate that will be at least two degrees warmer than today in 70 years' time.

The need to adapt to climate change is being recognised at different levels of government in Australia, with the Australian government requesting the Productivity Commission to undertake a review of Barriers to Effective Climate Change Adaptation and the Victorian government acknowledging the need to focus on adapting to climate risks in their response to the review of the 2010 Climate Change Act.

In the scientific community, a recent international conference held in the US considered the challenges of adapting to climate change and this week the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research and the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility hosted state and national conferences that will present recent research and discuss how it can improve adaptation policy and practice.

However, these activities in the policy and research spheres are tending to produce more questions than answers, as policy makers consider how to address future climate risks.

At a governance level, a key question is who is primarily responsible for leading on adaptation: government or the private sector and individuals? Economists such as Ross Garnaut have argued that there is no real market failure in adapting to climate change and that it is primarily up to individuals, communities, or private companies to consider potential impacts and take action accordingly. Government has some responsibility to provide information, look after its own assets and to provide for a strong and flexible economy that provides the best environment for adaptation....

The Pinnacles in Australia, shot by Ruth Ellison, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license 

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