A Comprehensive Review of Climate Adaptation in the United States: more than before, but less than needed

Abstract: "We reviewed existing and planned adaptation activities of federal, tribal, state, and local governments and the private sector in the U.S. to understand what types of adaptation activities are underway across different sectors and scales throughout the country. Primary sources of review included material officially submitted for consideration in the upcoming 2013 U.S. National Climate Assessment and supplemental peer-reviewed and grey literature.

(The study finds) that although substantial adaptation planning is occurring in various sectors, levels of government, and the private sector, few measures have been implemented and even fewer have been evaluated. Most adaptation actions to date appear to be incremental changes, not the transformational changes that may be needed in certain cases to adapt to significant changes in climate. While there appear to be no one-size-fits-all adaptations, there are similarities in approaches across scales and sectors, including mainstreaming climate considerations into existing policies and plans, and pursuing no- and low-regrets strategies. The research finds that despite the positive momentum in adaptation planning in recent years, barriers to implementation still impede action in all sectors and across scales. The most significant barriers include lack of funding, policy and institutional constraints, and difficulty in anticipating climate change given the current state of information on change."

The paper concludes with recommendations to advance the practice of adaptation through learning by doing, stakeholder engagements (including “listening sessions”), and sharing of best practices.

Publication Date: September 18, 2012

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Related Organizations:

  • University of Michigan

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment

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