New Research on Adaptation to Climate Change in the U.S. and Australia
Resilient Coastal City Regions published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Coastal regions should take steps now to prepare for storm surges, fires, sea level rise, and other disruptions associated with global climate change and extreme weather events, according to new research by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Resilient Coastal City Regions: Planning for Climate Change in the United States and Australia, edited by Edward J. Blakely, honorary professor at the U.S. Studies Centre, University of Sydney, and former recovery czar in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and Armando Carbonell, senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute and chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form, includes nine case studies and models for adaptation response, with a focus on the impacts of changes in climate on human welfare and the integrity of ecosystems.
The focus is on coastal regions in the United States and Australia, but the aim of the volume is to suggest adaptation and mitigation initiatives applicable throughout the world. A recent story in the New York Times surveyed how some 3.7 million Americans along the coastline are threatened by sea level rise.
“We are humbly aware that this is only an initial response to a challenge with a magnitude of potential impacts never before experienced in human history, a challenge that will test our ability to work together at every scale,” said Carbonell.
The case studies for adaptation responses are from New York City, the Southeastern Atlantic Coast States, New Orleans, Los Angeles-San Diego, and San Francisco in the U.S.; and in Australia from Melbourne, Sydney, South East Queensland, and Perth. Initiatives range from reconfiguring ecosystems and banning development in the wake of devastating fires in Melbourne; to creating one super-agency to manage water supplies in Los Angeles and San Diego; to the concept of “strategic retreat” of infrastructure, housing, and other assets vulnerable to storm surge and flooding in New York and Connecticut.
The context for this volume lies in the severe climate impacts that have already been seen, such as extreme temperature and precipitation events, with climate records set in countries around the globe, but notably in the United States and Australia.
The two countries, both large, sprawling, and showing a predilection for coastal development, have much in common when it comes to climate change. First, they are among the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters per capita in the developed world, with Australia usually heading the list and the United States close behind. Second, both countries are exposed to significant climate-related risk relative to sea level rise and storm surge, drought and water shortage, floods, wildfires, and heat waves. The city regions exemplified here represent some of the most critical conditions faced in the two countries.
The Lincoln Institute initially became involved in the issue of climate change through our work with planning directors in the 30 largest cities of the United States. Beginning in 2006 these city planners started raising the issue of how to respond to their mayors’ questions about global warming. Many of the mayors were already signing the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, launched by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in 2005 as the Kyoto Protocol was going into effect.
At least from the vantage point of the United States, it appears that the pendulum has swung from an initial emphasis on mitigation–the reduction of GHG emissions, as reflected in the mayors’ initiatives in response to the Kyoto Protocol–to one focusing on adaptation, or managing the risk of climate impacts that cannot be avoided, as cities prepare for the onslaught of climate-related impacts.
The nine cases show a range of adaptation responses. However, as explored in the concluding chapter, to avoid catastrophic results, it remains necessary to significantly reduce GHG emissions. While there are encouraging developments at the national level in Australia, recent analysis suggests that the time for action is critically short.
The pivotal environmental issue of our time has been crowded off the world stage as governments across the globe struggle for economic stability in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. In spite of mixed prospects for action at the international and national levels, state and local governments have shown a surprising ability to respond to climate change. Resilience and adaptation are rapidly becoming a major emphasis in these jurisdictions, warranting greater attention on best practices.
Climate Change and Coastal City Regions, Armando Carbonell and Edward J. Blakely
1. New York City, Robert D. Yaro and David M. Kooris
2. Southeastern Atlantic Coast States, Lauren Brown, Colin Quinn-Hurst, Phil Emmi, and Reid Ewing
3. New Orleans, Douglas J. Meffert and Joshua A. Lewis
4. Los Angeles-San Diego, Kenneth C. Topping
5. San Francisco, Laurie A. Johnson and Laura Tam
6. Melbourne, Peter M. J. Fisher
7. Sydney, Alan Cadogan
8. South East Queensland, Greg Laves and Peter Waterman
9. Perth, Laura Stocker, Peter Newman, and James Duggie
Transpacific Perspectives on Climate Action, Edward J. Blakely and Armando Carbonell
About the Editors
Edward J. Blakely is honorary professor of urban policy at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. His web page is www.blakelycitytalk.com.
Armando Carbonell is senior fellow and chair of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Resilient Coastal City Regions: Planning for Climate Change in the United States and Australia
Edited by Edward J. Blakely and Armando Carbonell
March 2012/288 pages/Paper/$35.00
SOURCE Lincoln Institute of Land Policy