by: Ulla Vänttinen
Senior Advisor for Climate Adaptation for the US Environment Protection Agency, Dr Joel D Scheraga recently visited Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to discuss the challenges and opportunities we have to adapt effectively to climate change.
Dr Scheraga suggests that any policy portfolio must consist of both greenhouse gas mitigation policies and strategies for adapting to a changing climate. The development of these policy portfolios should take an integrated approach. Mitigation and adaptation policies are usually developed in isolation from one another. By approaching the development of these policies in a more integrated fashion, opportunities exist to indentify policies that yield multiple benefits. In addition, climate policy should also be placed in a larger context of sustainable development. To accomplish this, policy makers need to define the environmental, public health, and economic outcomes they want to attain and sustain for society – so-called sustainability goals. These goals should then drive how they address all environmental stressors, including climate change.
It is further suggested that the question of effective adaptation to climate change is a multi-disciplinary problem. It will require collaboration among physical scientists, biologists, social scientists and economists, political scientists, engineers and experts from other disciplines. To facilitate decision-making in climate adaptive management, decision support tools are needed. Many of the developed tools are non-prescriptive. They do not tell the decision-maker the “right” answer, rather, they allow the user to explore alternative plausible climate futures and implications of different decisions they might take.