New Article: ‘Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban’

Walsh, C.L., Roberts, D., Dawson, R.J., Hall, J.W., Nickson, A., Hounsome, R. (2013). Experiences of Integrated Assessment of Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Modelling in London and Durban. Environment and Urbanization.  DOI: 10.1177/0956247813501121

Abstract: The urgent need to reconfigure and transform urban areas to consume fewer resources, emit less pollution, minimize greenhouse gas production, protect natural ecosystems and increase the adaptive capacity to deal with climate risks is widely recognized. The implementation of improved sustainability measures in cities requires integrated thinking that encompasses a whole range of urban functions, often implying a major restructuring of urban energy systems, transport and the built environment, as well as a new approach to the planning and management of natural systems that service urban areas. Many local governments have a limited capacity to deal with such complex and interrelated problems, and this hampers their ability to deal with climate change. With these issues in mind, teams of scientists, practitioners and stakeholders in Durban (led by eThekwini Municipality) and London (led by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) developed city-scale integrated assessment modelling tools that represent interactions between different urban functions and objectives by linking climate change issues to broader agendas such as spatial planning. This paper reviews each integrated assessment tool, and critically analyzes their effectiveness in terms of technical approach, extent to which they meet policy needs, role of stakeholders in model development and application, barriers to their uptake and the value of and effort required for integration. While these integrated assessment tools did not provide the detailed design information sought by some decision makers, importantly they have stimulated stakeholders to think strategically and hold cross-sectoral conversations around implementing sustainability measures. Despite the technical and institutional challenges associated with the development and uptake of an integrated assessment model, we conclude that they do contribute to the quest for urban sustainability.

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New Book: ‘Managing Adaptation to Climate Risk: Beyond Fragmented Responses’

O’Brien, B. & O’Keefe, P. (2013). Managing Adaptation to Climate Risk: Beyond Fragmented Responses. Routledge.

Climate change is the single largest threat to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development. Addressing climate risk is a challenge for all. This book calls for greater collaboration between climate communities and disaster development communities. In discussing this, the book will evaluate the approaches used by each community to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. One area that offers some promise for bringing together these communities is through the concept of resilience. This term is increasingly used in each community to describe a process that embeds capacity to respond to and cope with disruptive events. This emphasizes an approach that is more focused on pre-event planning and using strategies to build resilience to hazards in an adaptation framework. The book will conclude by evaluating the scope for a holistic approach where these communities can effectively contribute to building communities that are resilient to climate driven risks.

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New Article: ‘Déjà Vu or Something New? The Adaptation Concept in the Climate Change Literature’

Bassett, T.J. & Fogelman, C. (2013). Déjà Vu or Something New? The Adaptation Concept in the Climate Change Literature. Geoforum. 48: 42-53.

Abstract: This paper reflects on the resurgence and meaning of the adaptation concept in the current climate change literature. We explore the extent to which the early political economic critique of the adaptation concept has influenced how it is used in this literature. That is, has the current conceptualization been enriched by the political economic critique of the 1970s and 1980s and thus represent something new? Or is the concept used in a way today that echoes previous debates; that is, is this a déjà vu experience? To answer this question, we review the early political economic critique of the natural hazards school’s interpretations of vulnerability and adaptation. We then examine the revival of the adaptation concept in the climate change literature and discuss its main interpretations. For the purposes of this paper, the climate change literature encompasses the four IPCC reports and adaptation-focused articles in four scholarly journals: Global Environmental Change, Climatic Change, Climate and Development, and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Our content analysis shows the dominance (70%) of ‘‘adjustment adaptation’’ approaches, which view climate impacts as the main source of vulnerability. A much smaller percentage (3%) of articles focus on the social roots of vulnerability and the necessity for political–economic change to achieve ‘‘transformative adaptation.’’ A larger share (27%) locates risk in both society and the biophysical hazard. It promotes ‘‘reformist adaptation,’’ typically through ‘‘development,’’ to reduce vulnerability within the prevailing system. We conclude with a discussion of continuity and change in the conceptualization of adaptation, and point to new research directions.

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New Article: ‘Climate Justice and Global Cities: Mapping the Emerging Discourses’

Bulkeley, H., Carmin, J., Broto, V.C., Edwards, G.A.S., Fuller, S. (2013). Climate Justice and Global Cities: Mapping the Emerging Discourses. Global Environmental Change. 1-12.

Abstract: Ever since climate change came to be a matter of political concern, questions of justice have been at the forefront of academic and policy debates in the international arena. Curiously, as attention has shifted to other sites and scales of climate change politics matters of justice have tended to be neglected. In this paper, we examine how discourses of justice are emerging within urban responses to climate change. Drawing on a database of initiatives taking place in 100 global cities and qualitative case-study research in Philadelphia, Quito and Toronto, we examine how notions of distributive and procedural justice are articulated in climate change projects and plans in relation to both adaptation and mitigation. We find that there is limited explicit concern with justice at the urban level. However, where discourses of justice are evident there are important differences emerging between urban responses to adaptation and mitigation, and between those in the north and in the south. Adaptation responses tend to stress the distribution of ‘rights’ to protection, although those in the South also stress the importance of procedural justice. Mitigation responses also stress ‘rights’ to the benefits of responding to climate change, with limited concern for ‘responsibilities’ or for procedural justice. Intriguingly, while adaptation responses tend to stress the rights of individuals, we also find discourses of collective rights emerging in relation to mitigation.

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New Article: “‘Climate Finance Issues’: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation for Food Security in Southern Africa”

Hofisi, C., Chigavazira, B., Mago, S., Hofisi, M. (2013). “Climate Finance Issues”: Implications for Climate Change Adaptation in Food Security in Southern Africa”. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 4(6): 47-53.

Abstract: Global development has been asphyxiated by climate change as evidenced by significant repercussions on the world economy.While agriculture is the backbone of most developing economies in the global south, this sector is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Grim statistics point to a bleak future if the risk posed by climate change is not tackled.The impact of climate change has generally seen precipitation increasing in the Global North while the same has decreased in the Global South resulting in both wetter and drier scenarios. This scenario has meant that global food security is under threat.It is against this background that climate change adaptation becomes significant in averting the climate change induced food crisis. However, the UNFCCC “funding streams” for climate change adaptation strategies have been criticised for being financially and technically inadequate for meeting the adaptation needs of poor countries that are more vulnerable to climate effects. The disbursal of climate change is inefficient and more costly. African countries have also been clamouring for direct access to climate finance. Therefore, the ravaging impact of climate change on global development lingers. While there are debates on climate finance for effective adaptation, the resolution of issues involved is key if the battle against climate change is to be won. It is important that adaptation is mainstreamed in government policies, mainly, in the developing countries for effective financing of climate change adaptation to be realised while the poor and most vulnerable in developing countries should be given priority.

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New Article: “Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change: A Risk Approach”

Dow, K., Berkhout, F., Preston, B.L., (2013). Limits to Adaptation to Climate Change: A Risk Approach. Environmental Sustainability. 5: 1-8.

Abstract: As attention to adaptation to climate change increases, there is a growing call for adaptation approaches that focus on risk management. There is also greater recognition that the rate and magnitude of climate variability and change may exceed the limits to adaptation of socio-ecological systems. We offer an actor-centered, risk-based definition for adaptation limits in social systems. Specifically, we frame adaptation limits as the point at which an actor’s objectives cannot be secured from intolerable risks through adaptive actions. These limits are significant because exceeding a limit will either result in intolerable losses on the affected actor or system, or precipitate a discontinuous (or transformational) change of behavior by actors. Such discontinuities in behavior have implications for the distribution of risks, with potentially significant governance consequences. We further argue that some adaptation limits are dynamic through time. We conclude with recommendations for further research into adaptation limits and challenges to risk governance.

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New Article: “Biopolitics and Climate Security in the Anthropocene”

Dalby. S., (2013). Biopolitics and Climate Security in the Anthropocene. Geoforum. 49: 184-192.

Abstract:  The discussion of the Anthropocene focuses attention on the changing geological context for the future of humanity, change wrought by practices that secure particular forms of human life. These are frequently discussed in geography in terms of biopolitics. In particular liberal societies powered by carboniferous capitalism and using their practices of war secure ‘biohumanity’. Climate change is one of the key dimensions of the future that biopolitical strategies of managing risk and contingency have so far failed to address effectively. The debate about the relationship climate and security emphasises that the geological circumstances of the Anthropocene require a different biopolitics, one that understands that securing the biohuman is now the danger, and as an exigesis of the E3G analysis of ‘‘Degrees of Risk’’ shows, one that conventional understandings of risk management cannot adequately encompass. The Anthropocene provides a political recontextualisation for possible new forms of biopolitics after the biohuman.

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