Climate change: adapt to reduce the risks
Fanny Schertzer
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Climate change: adapt to reduce the risks

April 7 saw the opening of the five-day meeting in Germany, between government representatives and scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to finalise the third report in a four part series, assessing the options for mitigating climate change and the underlying technical, economic and institutional requirements. Last month saw the release of the second report from the IPCC, in Yokohama, Japan on 31 March.

 The report by Working Group II of the IPCC, titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, details the impacts of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks.

Some of the major findings of these two reports indicate that the temperature of world’s oceans and land surface continue to increase. The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have been losing mass while glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide. Arctic sea ice and northern hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease, while sea levels continue to rise. None of these are new or startling revelations, but this is the reality that the world has been trying to face for some time.

The reports highlight that not only do we live in an age of manmade climate change but also that this change is continuing to happen and the evidence is being felt across the world. The effects of global warming are experienced in different ways between the northern and southern hemispheres and this report states that immediate action is needed to deal with these risks, which are manifesting through climate change. We must review how we deal with the affects of climate change through new infrastructure such as protecting against rising water with floodgates, incorporating green roof systems into new buildings to cope with wetter climates and constructing buildings that are better insulated from changing external environments. In 2006, urban areas accounted for 67–76% of energy use and 71–76% of energy‐related CO2 emissions.

According to the Passive House Institute, on average, about 40% of the total energy consumption in industrialised countries is used for buildings. This is a huge amount of energy when one considers how long a building's lifespan is, its effect on a community and its ability to function effectively throughout that time frame. We really need to create buildings that will be sustainable in the long run. Local authorities must look past the acceptable and build for the future using passive house standards for public buildings, schools and homes.

In addition to committing to the passive house standard for all future new buildings, local councils could also begin the upgrade to existing structures to bring them up to Enerphit, the Passive House Institute’s less new standard for retrofit projects.

A way to insure communities are on board would be to offer incentives, grants and to educate the community at a local level of the benefits to not only the environment, but also their pockets in the long run. Ambitious local authorities could take the lead ahead of national governments by making the passive house standard mandatory within their boundatries. 

So we accept the inevitable for now and adapt, seems to be the message. Your thoughts?

Read both reports here:

Last modified on Friday, 25 April 2014 10:28