Urban Policies for Climate Variability and Climate Change Adaptation

Abstract

Whilst the concept of climate change risk is generally acknowledged within current urban policy-making, there is little apparent distinction made between true (long term) climate change (CC) and the short term imperative of responding to climate variability (CV). Election-based governance systems tend to focus on relatively short-term responses, addressing CV.

The risk is that the “quick-fix”, vote-earning, policy responses to CV make future adaptation to CC much harder, less likely, and perhaps even unlikely. For instance, a short-term response to flooding is to provide efficient and effective emergency response and post-disaster support, yet the longer term response should be to reduce the risk through, say, re-location. There has been some policy movement in this direction, for instance managed regression of land on the less populated areas of east coast of the UK but it has yet to be accomplished within an urban context.

There would seem to be a need for two, yet integrated policy adaptation sets; one for CV and one for CC which will need different, yet parallel, decision-making processes to be operative, with clear links between the two, and probably involving different persons. There is also a need for more accurate use of the term “climate change”. Politicians throughout the European Union use “climate change” when in many (perhaps most) cases they would be better served by being more accurate and using the term “climate variability”.

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Urban Policies For CV And CC Adaptation
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