Managing Climate Extremes And Disasters In Asia

Apr 18th, 2012 | By | Category: Adaptation, Capacity Development, Disaster and Emergency, Disasters and Climate Change, Lessons, News, Publication

CDKN: The Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) was commissioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in response to a recognised need to provide specific advice on climate change, extreme weather and climate events (‘climate extremes’). The SREX report was written over two and a half years, compiled by 220 expert authors, 19 review editors and taking account of almost 19,000 comments. It went through three rigorous drafting processes with expert and government review. The findings were approved by the world’s governments following a four-day meeting, where the Summary for Policy Makers was agreed. It thus provides the best scientific assessment available to date. It comprises a policy summary released in November 2011 and the full report released in March 2012 (available onlinenat http://ipcc-wg2.gov/srex).

This summary highlights the key findings of the report from an Asian perspective, including an assessment of the science and the implications of this for society and sustainable development. The SREX report considers the effects of climate change on extreme events, disasters, and disaster risk management (DRM). It examines how climate extremes, human factors and the environment interact to influence disaster impacts and risk management and adaptation options (see Figure 1). The SREX report considers the role of development in exposure and vulnerability, the implications for disaster risk, and the interactions between disasters and development. It examines how human responses to extreme events and disasters could contribute to adaptation objectives, and how adaptation to climate change could become better integrated with DRM practice. The SREX report represents a significant step forward for the integration and harmonisation of the climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and climate science communities.

Although not an official publication of the IPCC, this summary has been written under the supervision of co- authors of the report and it has been thoroughly reviewed by an expert scientific panel. The summary includes material directly taken from the SREX report, where the underlying source is clearly referenced, but it also presents synthesis messages that are the views of the authors of this summary and not necessarily those of the IPCC. It is hoped that the result will illuminate the SREX report’s vital findings for decision makers in Asia, and so better equip them to make sound investments to reduce disaster risk in a changing climate.

 

Ten Key Messages

Key summary messages from the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation for the Asia region:

1. Even without taking climate change into account, disaster risk will continue to increase in many countries as more vulnerable people and assets are exposed to weather extremes. In absolute terms for example, Asia already has more than 90% of the global population exposed to tropical cyclones.

2. Based on data since 1950, evidence suggests that climate change has changed the magnitude and frequency of some extreme weather and climate events in some global regions already.

3. In the next two or three decades, the expected increase in climate extremes will probably be relatively small compared to the normal year-to- year variations in such extremes. However, as climate change impacts become more dramatic, its effect on a range of climate extremes in Asia will become increasingly important and will play a more significant role in disaster impacts.

4. There is better informationon what is expected in terms of changes in extremes in various regions and sub-regions, rather than just globally (see Table 1 and Figure 2); though for some regions and some extremes uncertainty remains high (e.g. drought trends across most of Asia).

5. High levels of vulnerability, combined with more severe and frequent weather and climate extremes, may result in some places in Asia, such as low lying islands and coastal areas, being increasingly difficult places in which to live and work.

6. A new balance needs to be struck between measures to reduce risk, transfer risk (e.g. through insurance) and effectively prepare for and manage disaster impact in a changing climate. An example is the introduction of index- based insurance for non- irrigated crops in Andhra Pradesh. This balance will require a stronger emphasis on anticipation and risk reduction.

7. Existing risk management measures need to be improved as many countries are poorly adapted to current extremes and risks, so are not prepared for the future. This would include a wide range of measures such as early warning systems, land use planning, development and enforcement of building codes, improvements to health surveillance, or ecosystem management and restoration. Indonesia’s 2007 Disaster Management Law for example, has created a stronger association between DRM and development planning processes.

8. Countries’ capacity to meet the challenges of observed and projected trends in disaster risk is determined by the effectiveness of their national risk management system. Such systems include national and sub- national governments, the private sector, research bodies, and civil society including community- based organisations. In Bangladesh the government has worked in partnership with donors, NGOs, humanitarian organisations and with coastal communities themselves to implement DRR efforts for tropical cyclones.

9. More fundamental adjustments are required to avoid the worst disaster losses and tipping points where vulnerability and exposure are high, capacity is low and weather and climate extremes are changing.

10. Any delay in greenhouse gas mitigation is likely to lead to more severe and frequent climate extremes in the future and will likely further contribute to disaster losses.

Source: CDKN

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