Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From Kitchener Record: List of adaptation measures

The Record (Ontario), op-ed by James Ford, Tristan Pearce and Lea Berrang Ford: …[How] can we facilitate adaptation to climate change? A good starting point would be the examination of how we currently manage climatic hazards. All levels of government, business and civil society have experience in developing and implementing plans to cope and deal with hazards such as floods, heat waves, disease outbreaks, drought and storms. Learning from current successes and failures will help us better manage climate change, which is expected to increase the magnitude and frequency of these hazards.

Examples of successful planning include:

  • The development of effective early warning systems.
  • The development of response plans which identify jurisdiction and guide response during hazard events.
  • Contingency planning for worst case scenarios.
  • The development of hazard maps to help guide development into low risk areas and prevent development in high risk areas.
  • Land use planning which maintains natural features such as wetlands, which reduce the occurrence and severity of hazards.
  • The identification of safe areas accessible by community members during hazard events, such as community "cool centres" for those vulnerable to heat stress during heat waves.
  • The maintenance of emergency funds to facilitate recovery.

Climate change will also result in the emergence of new hazards with which we have limited experience in Canada. Existing hazards will also become more widespread affecting previously unexposed areas. Responding to these new risks will have to involve:

  • Investment in our health systems so they are ready for emerging health threats associated with climate change.
  • Integration of climate change projections into infrastructure development, building codes and hazard mapping.
  • Enhancement of hazard forecasting systems.
  • Creation of networks to facilitate the participation of grassroots organizations in the development of plans to identify and manage the impacts of climate change on communities.
  • Worst case contingency planning by business and municipalities.
  • Enhancement of information transfer between communities and government regarding the impacts of climate change on local livelihoods and intervention required.

…Advancing research and development in this area should be a main priority in future climate change planning alongside efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A national adaptation plan is clearly needed.

Provincial governments and municipalities also need to be proactive in identifying key vulnerabilities in their jurisdictions and develop plans to reduce the negative impacts of climate change. For businesses, climate change planning could be the difference between success and failure.

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