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THE CARIBBEAN: Report warns climate change may stretch adaptation budgets (01/05/12)

A new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warns that Caribbean islands are facing the challenge of adopting climate adaptation measures that may over-stretch their budgets due to climate change-related extreme weather events such as sea level rises, major storms and droughts.

However, the report also concludes that costly investments are not required to mitigate extreme weather event effects, which is important as funding for climate change adaptation is scarce in this region, according to the IPCC.

The report reaches a number of conclusions, which include the observation that extreme and non-extreme weather or climate events affect vulnerability to future events by modifying resilience, coping capacity and adaptive capacity.

It also notes that climate change can bring unprecedented extreme weather and climate events, and that exposure and vulnerability are dynamic, varying across temporal and spatial scales, and depending on economic, social, geographic, demographic, cultural, institutional, governance and environmental factors.

Data on disasters and disaster risk reduction are lacking at a local level, the report says, which can hamper moves to reduce local vulnerability. However, post-disaster recovery and reconstruction provide an opportunity to reduce weather and climate-related disaster risk and improve adaptive capacity.

Risk sharing and transfer mechanisms at local, national, regional and global scale can increase resilience to climate extremes, it says. It is important to pay attention to the temporal and spatial dynamics of exposure and vulnerability, the report adds, as some measures can reduce risk in the short term but may increase it in the long-term – for instance, dike systems can provide immediate protection but may encourage settlement patterns that increase long-term risk.

Closer integration of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, and the incorporation of both into local, sub-national, national and international development policies and practices, could provide benefits at all scales, the report concludes.
Lis Stedman