Climate Adaptation & Resilience

The climate change dialogue in the U.S. has been, until recently, largely focused on the “mitigation” issues relating to the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs). While mitigation remains critically important, the challenge of climate “adaptation” must also be considered to fully understand the implications of climate change. The scope of adaptation is largely dependent on how aggressively and successfully we address mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, and, at present, adaptation approaches and best practices are still evolving. As we begin 2014, the public and private sectors are entering a new phase in addressing the challenge of climate adaptation. On Nov. 1, 2013, the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced a new Executive Order titled, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.” At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency released for public comment a set of 17 draft program and regional adaptation plans. We also have passed the one-year milepost after the devastation wrought by “Superstorm Sandy,” an event that focused greater attention on adaptation and resilience and triggered several follow-on initiatives at the local, state, regional and federal levels. In the U.S., many communities and businesses now have advanced from resilience planning to action-oriented implementation. At the international level, adaptation was squarely on the agenda at the recently-completed UNFCCC meetings in Warsaw, Poland at COP-19.  This course will approach climate adaptation from a multidisciplinary perspective — technical, political, financial, and regulatory. After introducing the basic concepts of climate adaptation, the course will explore the current state of play at each level of scale — from the local to the global — and examine several of the key emerging topics that will affect public and private sector activities.

Ira Feldman in course syllabus for The Challenge of Climate Adaptation, University of Pennsylvania, 2014