Climate Change and Adaptation: Where do we go from here?
Dr. Sarah Ahmed1

The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda , V...
produce more or using drought resistant seeds for crops or by substituting environment friendly resources. Rainwater harve...
India has about 127.3million hectares [38.8%] of its geographical area under arid a...
Adaptation to climate change is absolutely essential as a proactive measure so that adaptive capacity of th...
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Climate Change and adaptation Ahmed sarah.doc

  1. 1. Climate Change and Adaptation: Where do we go from here? Dr. Sarah Ahmed1 The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda , Vadodara, India. E-mail: ABSTRACT: Climate Change is a global phenomenon however the impact of climate change differs in different regions and in different countries according to the individual climatic characteristics of different countries and also due to its individual; economic and social and terrestrial conditions. The adaptation measures then would differ in order to address the individual circumstances .However the main sectors that are normally affected in all developing countries and particularly in countries of South Asia are: agriculture, water resources, human health, ecosystem and biodiversity and coastal zones. While efforts are being made for mitigation measures, it is imperative and urgent that action for adaptation to th4e already changing climate is taken up to develop adaptive capacity of the vulnerable poor in India and most South Asian countries. Adaptation measures aim at reducing the risks and negative impacts of climate change by developing adaptability and adaptive capacity of stakeholders involved, particularly the vulnerable groups who may not be adequately endowed to grapple with the adverse impacts. There is a need to incorporate adaptation measures in national and international planning and policy measures in such a way that they effectively supplement the natural adaptation capabilities built in the natural system. While much efforts are underway in some Asian countries, yet effective action needs to be taken in order to overcome the constraints due to poor resource base , inequalities in income, weak institutions and limited technology which inhibits efforts to adapt to extreme events like droughts, floods, cyclones ,decrease in crop yields and risks of hunger and malnutrition, vector-born diseases. The present paper is an attempt to assess the measures for adaptation taken so far and throw light on the policy action that can be taken particularly at the local level for effective adaptation with special focus on India. Keywords: Climate Change, Adaptation, Policy, India, South Asia, 1. INTRODUCTION Climate change with its varied ramifications has posed many challenges to the type of natural environment that different human societies around the world are accustomed to. In the context of South Asian countries the variability in the climatic conditions like variations in temperature, precipitation and consequent changes in hydrological cycle an also ocean tides can disturb the society and economy which is primarily based on sectors like agriculture, fishery and forestry. Due to variations in temperature some regions would become water scarce while other regions could experience floods. IPCC [2001] predicts more intense precipitation events to be very likely in many areas while increased summer continental drying in future. Climate change leads to vulnerability and thus carries the potential to increase inequities in sectors like food, water and health especially in regions where problems like poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are widespread 1.1 Importance of Adaptation Measures in Developing Countries Developing countries located in arid and semi-arid regions are very prone to high climate variability and therefore the frequency and magnitude of inequities in terms of health status or access to food and water can be higher [IPCC 2001]. Developing countries in arid and semi-arid regions most often lack development and have low potential for employment. The people are mostly dependent on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood and there is low level of human and financial capital. Under such circumstances irregularities or variations in rainfall can become very critical to their survival. The number of rainy days or the onset of the rainy season may provide critical thresholds for success or complete failure of any farming activity. A study by Holger Hoff [2004](page 7) mentions that “temperature increases alone, without any water related effects, can also reduce agricultural yields severely or even exceed the tolerance limits of plants, so that they cannot be grown more(possible critical threshold)”. Such eventualities can restrict the capabilities of the local inhabitants to grapple with changes in climate and to ensure their sustainability. Therefore adaptation measures become very important in order to increase their resilience and adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is the potential or ability to adjust in order to minimize negative impacts and maximize any benefits from changes in climate. Effective adaptation measures can strengthen existing coping mechanisms and assets targeting climate change vulnerability with specific measures and integrating vulnerability reduction as an objective in policies and planning. It should be noted that early pro-active adaptation measures to tackle the onset of climatic changes are more cost- effective than re-active short term emergency measures 2. ADAPTATION MEASURES Adaptation measures can be of various types. Generally they can be grouped in the following categories: 1. Policy measures adopted by Governments to adapt to a particular local situation and minimize the adverse impacts of Climate Change by providing the base to enhance the human capital and financial strength of the people. 2. Technological and structural measures: these usually are measures which innovate production process through efficiency in production so that less of a resource is used to produce more such as technology that could use less water in agriculture to 1
  2. 2. produce more or using drought resistant seeds for crops or by substituting environment friendly resources. Rainwater harvesting to supplement water supply and injection wells to enhance groundwater recharge are other examples. 3. Change of use, activity or location in response to climatic changes: A switchover to new employment generating activities or migration to other places in search of livelihood, change in traditional dietary habits, etc. 4. Monitoring and forecasting: These include short term forecasting systems for floods, early warning systems to help implement emergency responses, telemetric warning systems, routine sea-surface temperature measurement and also other meteorological parameters like temperature, air pressure, humidity etc. for early forecasting of famine and droughts. 5. Risk sharing: This can be done successfully through insurance which can help spread climate risks over larger population or over larger geographical areas. This is especially important in a developing economy with agriculture orientation as it can help reduce risks and protect farmers against floods, droughts, pest attacks and such other risks. Insurance schemes which are weather based can be very effective in agriculture based country like India. These schemes have weather index like rainfall, temperature, humidity, crop yields rather than actual losses to design the insurance products. Administrative costs of such insurance products are also low as it does not deal case-by case losses or damage assessment need be done. Index insurance can provide simple cost effective coverage to small farmers. 2.1 Funding Resources for Adaptation Measures Adaptation measures can prove to be very costly. Moreover it involves equity aspects too as the sufferers are usually not the contributors to the adverse effects of climate change. Therefore the developing countries expect the developed countries to fund the adaptation measures. As incorporated in the Bali Action Plan and the UNFCCC, Funds are created to provide financial resources to the developing countries for adaptation measures. “But experts generally agree that the current amount of available funding for adaptation programs woefully fails to meet projected costs. The UNDP calculates that by 2015, adaptation will cost nearly $86 billion a year. A World Bank estimation puts that number closer to $100 billion. Yet, less than $150 million per year is currently set aside for adaptation programs, representing a mere 14% of all available climate change funds. The Accord, however, put adaptation needs of developing countries on an equal basis with mitigation. It calls for initial funds to reach $10 billion annually through 2012, increasing to $100 billion per year by 2020.”[ACCRN Newsletter, Issue 1 page 2,Feb 2010] 2.2 Adaptation Costs The total costs of climate change consists of 3 parts: the costs of mitigation, i.e. reducing the extent of climate change; e.g. limit the overall temperature increase to 2o C; the costs of adaptation i.e. reducing the impact of climate change; e.g. invest in coastal protection to limit the negative impacts of 2 o C warming; and the residual impact cost that can neither be mitigated nor adapted to e.g. accept the loss of certain coastlines because they cannot be defended at reasonable costs. In addition to making provisions for funding adaptation measures, it is necessary to estimate the costs of adaptation for each project. Adaptation costs would be additional costs to development initiatives to maintain the pre-climate change welfare levels. This also poses the economic question of how much to adapt since it involves allocation of resources to adapt to climate change while also meeting other needs. The following table gives welfare proxies for different sectors Table 1 Welfare proxies for defining Sectoral adaptation costs Sector Welfare proxy Infrastructure Level of services Coastal zones Optimal level of protection plus residual damage Water supply and flood management Level of industrial and municipal water availability ; availability of flood protection Agriculture Number of malnourished children and per capita calorie consumption Fisheries Level of revenue Human health Health standard defined by burden of disease Forestry and ecosystem services Stock of forests; level of services Extreme weather events Number of deaths and people affected Source: Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change study team. Accurately estimating the costs of adaptation for different sectors in the face of uncertainty about the exact climate change scenario is difficult. Therefore policy makers need to have accurate information and data for any particular sector at any particular location. Therefore disaggregated data collection is an essential requirement for effective adaptation. 2
  3. 3. 3. ADAPTATION POLICY MEASURES IN INDIA India has about 127.3million hectares [38.8%] of its geographical area under arid and semi-arid region. India is highly committed in its efforts mitigate the adverse effects of climate change as well as take proactive steps for adaptation to increase resilience and capacity to deal with any adverse impacts due to climate change already underway without sacrificing economic development. The National Environment Policy was announced in 2006 which is framed to mainstream environmental aspects in all development activities. It also envisages implementing adaptation measures to tackle the adverse impact of climate change. In June 2008 India announced its National Action Plan on Climate Change. The Plan covers eight broad areas through its National Missions which takes care of both mitigation and adaptation measures. These eight national missions are: 1. National Solar Mission 2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency 3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat 4. National Water Mission 5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem 6. National Mission for a “Green India” 7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture 8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change Each of these Missions has a technology development and R&D component. 3.1 Method of implementation The implementation of these missions is envisaged to be carried out under the concept of public private partnership after a thorough and wide-ranging consultative process involving all stakeholders, including Central Ministries and agencies, State Governments, business and industry, civil society and community level organizations and representatives. While Missions like National Solar Mission and the Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency take care of mitigation measures, Missions for sustaining the Himalayan ecosystem and Sustainable agriculture incorporate measures for adaptation. Many other rural employment generating schemes e.g. the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [NREGA], also take care of adaptation and resilience to climate change. In the case of NREGA, the employment generating work which can be undertaken include several types which help adaptation to climate change such as water conservation and harvesting, drought proofing through afforestation and tree planting, renovation of traditional water bodies and flood control and protection works like building check dams and bunds. 3.2 Community Based Adaptation Measures: A number of Non-Governmental Organizations [NGOs] have been working with vulnerable communities for many years . For example Utthan has been working for over two decades in Gujarat to initiate sustainable processes of empowerment among the vulnerable sections in the drinking water sector enabling the communities to protect the water resources to meet their drinking water needs. It has also developed its Coastal Area Development Program in Bhavnagar and Amreli districts. Likewise Mahiti is also a people’s organization working in coastal Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar cities of Gujarat on issues like drinking water, savings and credit among women, improving agricultural land, health, natural resource management and disaster prevention. These are just two of the innumerable NGOs who are working on issues which in a way link to adaptation measures. However, in the context of extreme climate change scenarios and the need for adaptation measures in many areas, it is imperative that we go a step further and try to integrate the efforts and resources and implement the adaptation measures in a more equitable and balanced manner. For this a more disaggregated information and data at the grass-roots is essential. For example a field study conducted by Ahmed Sarah[2007]in Chhota Udepur taluka of Gujarat revealed that the inhabitants of villages like Sursi and Danoli face scarcity of water and the women usually adapt to this situation by reducing water intake which can have deteriorating effect on their health. It also has adverse impact on food security and other income generating activities like sheep rearing and poultry keeping. 3.3. Successful Adaptation Policy Action Accurate and disaggregated data is absolutely essential for successful adaptation measures and for effective cost-benefit analysis. While NGOs and Government agencies as well as public-private partnership initiatives are doing a commendable job, there is still a lack of balanced approach towards addressing all villages and/or talukas. It would be worthwhile to involve academic institutions to conduct surveys for assessing the adaptation needs of the various sectors. A public-academic-community policy action would give a fair idea about how much to adapt and which sectors should be given priority and in which areas/regions. Training workshops to train the trainers is essential so that survey instruments are formulated accurately to get the desired data. Training workshops to train the trainers is essential so that survey instruments are formulated accurately to get the desired data.. This too would involve expenditure and therefore adequate funding resources should be generated. 3
  4. 4. 4. CONCLUSIONS Adaptation to climate change is absolutely essential as a proactive measure so that adaptive capacity of the vulnerable sections both in the urban and rural areas is enhanced. Adaptation involves huge costs for which developed countries should cooperate to make the funds available. Another imperative is accurate data regarding vulnerabilities owing to variability in climatic conditions. Therefore collection of disaggregated and accurate information is absolutely essential. Only then can we expect to go ahead with firm steps to face the adverse impacts of climate change with some degree of positivism and practical policy measures. 5. REFERENCES Ahmed Sarah [2007]: Socio-Economic Issues in Watershed Management: A Gender Perspective, Working Paper No.4 , Department of Economics, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda Dr.Mitchell Tom and Dr.Tanner Thomas [2006] Adapting to Climate Change:Chammenges and opportunities for the development community.Institute of Develoment Studies pp 1-36 Government of India; Ministry of Environment and Forests [2006] National Environment Policy pages 52. Hoff Holger [2004] Climate Change Adaptation in India :A report Indo-German Bilateral Project[IGBP] ‘Watershed Management” Margulis Sergio ; Narain Urvashi and core team: The Costs to Developing Countries of Adapting to Climate Change ,New Methods and Estimates The Global Report of The Economics of Adaptation to Climate change Study ; Consultation Draft . Parikh Jyoti K. ;Parikh Kirit (2002) Climate Change: India’s Perceptions,Positions,Policies and Possibilities,Climate Change and Development OECD [Informal working paper] pp1-30 Rockefeller Foundation: [2010] Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network Newsletter Issue 1 February Saran Shyam[2009] India’s Climate Change Initiatives:Strategies for a Greener Future :A speech . Carnegie Endowment for International Peace pages 13 4