Carpathian Development Institute presents Adaptation to climate change impact a local level ( part 2/2) Climate change represents a complex of challenges that impact not only the environment but also the social, economic and health situation which, consequently, will influence each and every one of us. How can we get ready for this? We can mitigate the climate change continuation in the future decades to a significant extent but, unfortunately, we cannot stop it completely. If we wish to mitigate negative impacts of the climate change and protect our health, property and future development, it is inevitable that we also adapt all our activities to the new conditions – we need to adapt to such development. On the other hand, it is not possible to adapt to any and all climate change impacts fully. The more substantial the warming, the more expensive and more problematic the adaptation. Therefore, the first step on the way to negative impacts mitigation is to decrease the greenhouse gases emissions mainly through energy saving measures implementation and by lowering of energy demands of facilities.
The following data provided by the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute serves to indicate the importance of this adaptation: in case the adaptation measures were not implemented, as many as 145,000 – 290,000 jobs could be jeopardized in Slovakia by 2050 and the GDP could potentially drop by €14 – 27.5 billion. Adaptation can take various forms. Local public administration has to start implementing coordinated adaptation activities which should be in harmony with the planned development of the town or city. Representatives of the relevant administration bodies, together with experts, citizens and businesses should, first of all, prepare the plan of adaptation that would analyse the climate change impacts on the town/city and region, as well as its vulnerability; and which should also recommend measures to be taken. For heat waves impacts mitigation, for example, we should draft the city planning structure in such way as to allow for better air ventilation. Overheating of buildings interior can be attenuated by insulation, shading or by using light colours and reflective surfaces. Cooling down of public spaces can be helped by increasing of the vegetation cover dominated by trees ratio.
For instance, air temperature differences between the air above a supermarket asphalt parking lot and that of a park with densely planted alleyways were as high as 10 – 12°C in Slovakia. Torrential rains impacts can be mitigated, among other measures, by the vegetation area increasing – especially by extending of nature-like forests or of the areas with water-permeable surfaces in the cities. We can promote protection of water courses, wetlands and flood zones or build flood control barriers. Negative impacts of longer droughts can be mitigated (for example) by the rainwater re-using, as well as by the increased utilisation of local water sources or by house wastewater treatment plants constructing. Strong storms and whirlwind impacts can be mitigated e.g. by planting of wind-belts, hedges or by portable barrier systems installation. Local self-government bodies in Slovakia have many authorities they can use for the adaptation. Citizens and businesses should be more than mere observers – they should become a part of the adaptation process and of the adaptation activities implementation process in their capacity of partners, implementing the measures themselves.
The time to act is now! Adaptation to climate change – change in decision – making Swiss – Slovak cooperation programme Carpathian Development Institute – more info: www.kri.sk.