Climate change policy has typically emphasized mitigation, calling for reducing emissions and shifting away from fossil fuels. Yet while these efforts have floundered, floods, wildfires, droughts, and other disasters are becoming more frequent and potent. As the risks escalate, we must ask how to adapt to a changing climate. How might farmers modify their practices to maximize food security? Can coastal cities protect their infrastructure from rising seas? Are there strategic ways for developing countries to combine climate resilience with economic growth and poverty reduction? For people and societies around the world, these questions are not theoretical: adaptation is already underway.
Climate Change Adaptation offers a concise overview of climate adaptation governance. In clear, accessible language, Lisa Dale describes key strategies that governments, communities, and the private sector are now deploying. She presents the theory and practice that underlie climate adaptation efforts at local and global scales, providing illuminating case studies that foreground the problems facing developing countries. Dale analyzes the effectiveness of a range of policy interventions, drawing out principles of good governance and discussing how practitioners can navigate complex tradeoffs. She emphasizes equity and inclusion, considering how climate adaptation policy can account for the needs of historically disadvantaged groups. Written for a wide audience, this book is an invaluable introduction for all readers interested in how societies can meet the challenges of an altered climate.
List of Acronyms
1. Foundations: Science, Policy, and Institutions
2. Disaster Risk Management: Early Warning, Early Action
3. The Built Environment: Infrastructure and Nature-Based Solutions
4. Urban Planning for Climate Adaptation
5. Agriculture, Land Use, and Food Security
6. Insurance as Risk Transfer
7. Migration and Managed Retreat
8. Inequality and Justice
9. Synergies and Best Practices
Lisa Dale is a lecturer in the undergraduate program in sustainable development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Her expertise extends from wildfire policy in the American West to the impact of climate adaptation policies on smallholder farmers in rural sub-Saharan Africa.
"This book is an excellent introduction to the increasingly relevant challenge of climate adaptation. It addresses the main strands of this knowledge and policy domain in a highly structured way, referring to both knowledge and emerging governance practices. A strength is that it manages to explain the complexity of the adaptation challenge in a very clear and accessible way. Another strength of the volume is that it refers to challenges in wealthier, industrialized countries, as well as the specifics of developing countries, based on the authors experience in both contexts. Because of its clarity in writing, its governance focus and its comprehensive, yet introductory character, it is certainly a book that can guide researchers, policy makers and civil society actors, based on a solid basic understanding, towards further exploring the topic in an ever expanding knowledge field."
– Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency
"In the world of today, there are few competencies as important as the ability to manage the risks, impacts and uncertainties of a changing climate. No economy, no policy sector, and no institution is immune – yet many decision-makers find the essential concepts of climate change adaptation buried under a blanket of buzzwords, fuzzwords and murky relationships with other policy debates. In this primer, Lisa Dale charts a clear and accessible pathway through the most pertinent questions of climate change adaptation and provides a comprehensive overview of the strategies and solutions that are available to deal with the impacts of a heating planet in key policy sectors. Essential reading for times of growing uncertainty in our natural as well as institutional environments."
– Gernot Laganda, Chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes, UN World Food Programme
"Lisa Dale has written a comprehensive and accessible guide to current thinking and approaches related to climate adaptation. As a fellow traveler in the field of climate adaptation who recognizes the importance of the social sciences to helping humanity navigate increasingly severe climate impacts, I am impressed by Lisa's ability to summarize a complex field so clearly. This book presents a systematic account of the strengths and limitations of various adaptation strategies – from disaster risk reduction and large-scale infrastructure to "climate smart" agriculture. She also addresses human mobility as an adaptation strategy, and the vital importance of addressing equity and justice in a world where those least responsible for past emissions often bear the brunt of our collective failure in climate mitigation."
– Alex de Sherbinin, Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute