Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change

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1 Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change Prof. Dr. Christoph Görg Department of Social Sciences, University of Kasssel Head of Department Environmental Politics, UFZ Leipzig 1

2 Introduction: Climate Change and Vulnerability 1. Climate Change from a threat of the future to a reality of the present 2. Challenges of Research on Adaptation 3. The Concept of Vulnerability between natural and social sciences 4. The Idea of the Workshop, or: what can we learn from Africa? 2

3 1. Climate Change a reality of the present New discourse since IPCC-4AR in 2007 Climate Change as a reality With very different regional impacts How to adapt - without ignoring mitigation 3

4 Fig. 5. Actual CO2 emissions versus IPCC scenarios 4 Published by AAAS J. J. McCarthy Science 326, (2009)

5 1. Climate Change a reality of the present Climate Change is happening right now! E.g.: Salinization of wetlands in Bangladesh Droughts in semi-arid areas in Africa Extreme events in most parts of the world Adaptation is a necessity! But how to approach these challenges in practice? and research? 5

6 Practical challenges: regional adaptation to CC Hamburg Ostseeküste Bremen-Oldenburg Berlin-Brandenburg Emscher-Lippe Dresden Nordhessen flood risk winter rain summer drought c/o PIK 2005 (Zebisch et al.) 6

7 2. Challenges of Research on Adaptation no single indicator (like GHG-emissions): difficult to measure success or failure broad cross-cutting issue complex: has to be implemented into all sectors (water, forest, agriculture, infrastructure, housing, urban development, spatial planning among others) specific: building response capacity in one sector must not lead to capacity in others ( ADAM) limits to scientific prediction high uncertainties concerning pace, extent & spatial distribution of CC impacts regional impacts? 7

8 2. Challenges of Research on Adaptation four dimensions of integration a) climate change mitigation and adaptation b) different societal sectors c) regional vulnerabilities (incl. temporal scales) d) several vertical levels of decision making 8

9 2. Challenges of Research on Adaptation uncertainty concerning scientific prediction different temporal scales involved (e.g. agriculture vs forest, investment decisions vs infrastructure/spatial planning) additional challenge; CC only one driver of societal & environmental change sometimes other drivers more important (incl. power relations, economic & financial crises etc.) focus on social & environmental vulnerabilities 9

10 3. The Concept of Vulnerability between natural and social sciences Vulnerability: top-down & bottom-up approaches 10 not easy to combine both approaches top-down approach prevailing need for research on social vulnerabilities

11 3. The Concept of Vulnerability between natural and social sciences Some additional challenges: different sources Research on natural hazards: important topics: knowledge, uncertainty & ignorance Cross-cutting issues? Synergies & tradeoffs? Conflicts & power? Development research: poverty & livelihood Coupled socio-ecological systems (e.g. resilience) fit for industrialized countries? 11

12 4. What can we learn from Africa? Some challenges for applying the concept of vulnerability within Europe: Poverty & livelihood depends on political regulations (e.g. European agricultural subsidies, national welfare systems) Coupled socio-ecological systems? More indirect links society - natural environment Knowledge & uncertainties important Is CC really important? ignorance about environmental services? 12

13 Today: two keynotes Tim Forsyth (London School of Economics and Political Sciences): Climate Change and Vulnerability. Perspectives of Political Ecology Jorge Rojas Hernández (Universidad de Conception, Chile): Challenges of Climate Change in Chile (in German! Translation possible) Tomorrow: internal Workshop (application required) 13

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