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Point of view: Adaptation to climate change is inevitable

Wolfgang Pfefferkorn, project manager "climate" © CIPRA International

Despite progress in international climate policy, a rise in temperatures is inevitable. An adaptation now will save costs later, states Wolfgang Pfefferkorn, project manager for climate and energy at CIPRA International. Alpine regions are leading the way.

From 7 to 18 November 2016, the international community undertook negotiations at the international climate conference (COP22) in Marrakech, Morocco, for the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. The signals seen at the end of the meeting were positive, but even if we succeed in limiting further global warming in the future, climate change is inevitable. Therefore, there is no way around climate change adaptation.

Climate conditions will change in the Alps too: temperatures continue to rise, in the winter there will be less snow and the snowline will continue to retreat, while in summer there will be less water available in the Southern Alps.

Cities, municipalities and regions, farmers and foresters, the tourist industry (to name just a few of those affected) must react to this new situation, the earlier the better – not to mention the cheaper, because what we fail to do with regard to climate change adaptation today will cost us considerably more tomorrow.

Some regions in the Alps have recognised this. One is Surselva in the Swiss canton of Grisons/Graubünden. Under a participative process, those at the top of various sectors considered how they could in future achieve success in the changed climate conditions: they thus developed a toolbox to help make a virtue of necessity. Climate change adaptation can also become a regional engine for innovation.

Now that nearly all the Alpine countries have drawn up national adaptation strategies, they are starting to launch programmes to implement these at the regional and local level, introducing the issue on the ground as to some extent climate change concerns us all!
Examples include the successful pilot programme by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment or the recently presented programme for model regions for climate change adaptation (KLAR) in Austria.

One thing we should not forget, however: in all of these well-meant adaptation measures, we cannot allow that efforts to ensure climate protection – i.e. a reduction in greenhouse gases – are neglected!

 

Sources:

www.cipra.org/de/cipra/international/projekte/laufend/klima-toolbox (de, fr, it, sl), www.cipra.org/en/positions/climate-change-mitigation-nowwww.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/en/home/topics/climate.htmlwww.umweltfoerderung.at/betriebe/klimawandelanpassungsmodellregionen-klar.html (de)