Coping with climate change<br />AS Geography<br />
Public concern<br /><ul><li>Coverage of climate change in the media has increased immensely, particularly since 2003.
The public’s understanding of the issue is growing, but only slowly.
Although climate change is rated highly, other issues (e.g. terrorism, population growth) are perceived to be more serious.
About 25% of us think that ‘too much fuss’ is being made about global warming.</li></li></ul><li>Mitigation or adaptation?<br />Attempts to cope with climate change fall into two broad categories:<br /><ul><li>Mitigation — attempting to stop climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It requires actions to be taken now, or very soon.
Adaptation — attempting to live with a changing climate by altering lifestyles. This is a longer-term strategy. It assumes that climate change will be gradual and therefore there will be time to adapt.</li></li></ul><li>Mitigation <br /><ul><li>The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997, put the emphasis on mitigation.
Signatories agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by around 8% compared with 1990 levels.
Progress has been slow. Some countries did not sign up (e.g. USA); some later withdrew; others have not met targets; developing countries were not party to the treaty.</li></li></ul><li>Mitigation <br /><ul><li>In Europe, the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) is being used to encourage businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Many EU countries are investing in renewable energy, recycling and public transport.
Even if all Kyoto’s targets were met by 2012, the reduction in climate warming would only amount to around 0.1ºC.
Attention has now shifted to the treaty needed for beyond 2012. Early negotiations for this began in Bali in 2008.
One major issue is the desire of some countries (e.g. China and India) to keep growing. But these countries need to contribute to future emissions cuts.</li></li></ul><li>Mitigation <br />Options for reducing emissions and resource consumption include:<br /><ul><li>reducing industrial emissions
making transport efficient and reducing car use
increasing forest cover and sustainable forestry
reducing waste</li></li></ul><li>Local Agenda 21<br />Many large cities, even in the USA, are applying the Local Agenda 21 principle of ‘think global, act local’.<br />
Cars: changing our behaviour<br /><ul><li>A major issue is reducing car use. In the UK a range of approaches is being used to encourage people to switch to public transport: </li></ul>bus priority lanes<br />pedestrianisation<br />congestion charging (toll roads)<br />increased fuel duty<br /><ul><li>The UK government has also linked VED (road tax) to carbon dioxideemissions and introduced efficiency ratings for new cars.</li></li></ul><li>Businesses <br /><ul><li>Businesses are taking climate change increasingly seriously as agreements such as Kyoto and the EU ETS begin to bite.
Businesses may see rising fossil fuel prices as an incentive to switch to renewables and thereby increase the security of energy supply.
There are cost savings to be made by businesses as a result of reducing energy and other inputs.
Brand value and public perception may be enhanced by ‘greenness’.</li></li></ul><li>Businesses <br /><ul><li>DuPont reduced greenhouse gases by 72% between 1990 and 2003, thereby saving US$2 billion.
BT reduced energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 71% between 1991 and 2004 and in so doing saved £1.1 billion.
Wal-Mart’s ‘Sustainability 360’ programme is expected to turn around the company’s poor environmental reputation and increase profits. It has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in its stores, make its trucks more energy efficient and reduce packaging.</li></li></ul><li>Adaptation<br />Adaptation involves using technology to reduce the impacts of climate change. <br />It is likely to be costly and may not be possible in much of the developing world.<br />Examples include:<br />constructing sea defences to prevent sea-level rise from flooding coastal areas<br />developing drought-resistant and low-water crops <br />constructing water management and transfer systems to supply increasingly arid areas<br />installing air conditioning in homes<br />Many adaptation options are potentially environmentally damaging and will use up resources.<br />