Report calls for integrating emissions reduction and climate adaptation practices

December 19, 2018, Simon Fraser University
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A new Simon Fraser University report calls for governments to combine emission reduction and climate adaptation strategies and outlines best practices to reduce the severity of extreme climate impacts.

The report, Low Carbon Resilience: Best Practices for Professionals, authored by SFU's Adaptation to Climate Change Team (ACT), is the first to integrate mitigation, such as reducing , with climate adaptation—addressing ongoing climate changes—into Canadian .

The low carbon resilience (LCR) approaches would facilitate resource efficiencies and provide transformative solutions throughout a variety of sectors ranging from transportation, urban planning and agricultural operations.

"Typically, emissions reduction and climate adaptation have been addressed separately," says Deborah Harford, executive director of SFU's Adaptation to Climate Change Team and the report's co-author. "By integrating these two streams of action, governments can save time and resources, increase returns on investment, and generate economic, environmental, social and health co-benefits."

The report's findings have been endorsed by several leading national Canadian professional associations: the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association and ICLEI Canada. Adopting the findings from the report, the associations have developed a statement of agreement.

"Canada's professionals are essential contributors to climate action," Harford says. "Practitioners across the professions have a key role as change agents in advancing LCR practices in all aspects of society."

Climate change is already being experienced in Canada with instances of extreme heat, drought, wildfires and flooding. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report assessing climate risk makes it clear that climate extremes are projected to increase, and we must rapidly reduce emissions to prevent runaway climate change.

Climate impacts, and some of the potential adaptation responses to them, can significantly reduce the effectiveness of emissions reduction planning if this is not considered. Likewise, , renewables infrastructure, and land and water use planning designed to reduce emissions all have potential to contribute to or hinder the success of adaptation actions.

Joint Statement:

(from The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, the Canadian Institute of Planners, the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association and ICLEI Canada):

"Canadian professionals have both the opportunity and responsibility to respond to this challenge and address both emissions reduction and adaptation. Our national professional associations have a crucial role to play in advancing ethics, awareness, practices and policies that support this integrated LCR approach to action on climate change, due to their prominent roles in many aspects of the development and management of resources, ecosystems and communities."

Read the full statement here.

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