Monday, November 12, 2007

Adapt: more smart people agree

The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment (yep, THAT Heinz - of the 57 varieties, the late U.S. senator and Teresa Kerry) published a survey in October examining adaptation planning guidebooks and frameworks and adaptation planning efforts that are currently underway. I've blogged one of the guidebooks, written by the U. of Washington and King County, WA here. In this article, I'm pointing to a second guidebook featured in the survey.

Cities Preparing for Climate Change: A Study of Six Urban Regions, was written and published in May 2007 by the Clean Air Partnership of Toronto. As stated in its Executive Summary:

The study provides lessons from the experience of six of these early adapters: London, New York, Boston, Halifax, Vancouver and Seattle. The report also outlines a systematic process for municipalities to adapt to a changing climate and provides many examples of municipal adaptation policies and specific adaptation measures and actions from the cities studied.
The six city study was meant to serve as an initial scan of Toronto's climate risk exposure. Ian Burton, Scientist Emeritus, Environment Canada wrote the Introduction and he states the overall case for adaptation - as differentiated from mitigation - very well.
The benefits of adaptation fall largely where the costs are expended. If a city protects itself from storms, floods, droughts, heat waves, invasive pests, species, and diseases, it is the people of the city that benefit. Their environment is better, their health is more protected, and their economic activities are less liable to damage and disruption. Many political leaders and business managers in cities have enlightened attitudes to the problem of climate change and would like to make a contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and so they should. However, mitigation requires action at senior levels of government – provincially, federally and internationally. The primary task of municipal leaders is to care for their own citizens. That is what they are elected to do.

Why should the leaders of Toronto and other Canadian municipalities grasp the threats and opportunities of climate change adaptation vigorously with both hands? They should act because adaptation is now an imperative, and because it is primarily their responsibility to see that it happens. This research by CAP is therefore timely and appropriate.

No comments: