Ten strategies to systematically exploit all options to cope with anthropogenic climate change

Abstract

The frequency and severity of many types of extreme weather events may be changing because of climate change. To date, most vulnerability studies and resulting toolkits for decision makers, while state of the art, only address a specific subset of possible extreme weather events and mitigation and adaptation efforts. This paper extends Haddon’s strategies to facilitate a holistic, systematic analysis of the options that communities have to cope with uncertain impacts from multiple hazards in multiple sector of society. This framework distinguishes between efforts to reduce the hazard, the exposure, and the vulnerability, thus helping end the semantic confusion of the meaning of adaptation and mitigation. Two case studies demonstrate the merits of the proposed framework. First, we show how the framework can facilitate the systematic identification of mitigation and adaptation strategies for a sector such as human health. Second, we apply the framework to a particular hazard, anthropogenic climate change, in three cities in US Northeast. We find that the three cities pursue a range of strategies, with varying degrees of effort. Comparing cities reveals that some still have unused capacities, especially in terms of reducing the exposure and vulnerability to climate-enhanced hazards. Spreading efforts across multiple feasible strategies increases the robustness of the cities’ policy approach and diversifies the cities’ investment in the face of an uncertain future. Subsequent work, such as a cost-benefit analysis, would help a decision maker to evaluate policy options and steer research efforts appropriately.

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Acknowledgments

The authors were supported by the Climate Decision Making Center (SES-0345798) and by the center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (SES-0949710), both through a cooperative agreement between the National Science Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University.

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Correspondence to Frauke Hoss.

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Hoss, F., Klima, K. & Fischbeck, P. Ten strategies to systematically exploit all options to cope with anthropogenic climate change. Environ Syst Decis 34, 578–590 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-014-9517-2

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Emergency management
  • Strategic planning
  • Cities