Climate change is happening. Our Earth is already dangerously hot. People, animals and whole ecosystems are dying as a consequence. The current levels of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change are already resulting in changes to local economies, the environment, communities and governance systems. The Lab is focused on ensuring that businesses and communities are supported in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Reducing our emissions will lessen the impact of climate change, but it will not prevent it. A certain amount of climate change is inevitable and we must prepare ourselves for what this will entail.
Local governments play a critical role in helping their communities adapt to climate change. They are often the first to respond to localised impacts, and their strong connections to the community and local knowledge mean they are often best-placed to recognise the need for adaptation at a local scale.
Councils are already leading local efforts to adapt, but are also under pressure from increasing climate change risks and limited resources. For local communities to effectively manage the impacts of climate change, local governments need to be able to manage their own risks as well as helping the community to adapt.
In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans. Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires, reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability.
The impact of climate change is not experienced equally. Differences in vulnerability and exposure arise from non-climatic factors. Communities that are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalised are especially vulnerable to climate change.
Responding to climate-related risks involves decision making in a changing world, with continuing uncertainty about the severity and timing of climate-change impacts and with limits to the effectiveness of adaptation. Adaptation and mitigation choices in the near term will affect the risks of climate change throughout the 21st century.
Adaptation is becoming embedded in some corporate management planning processes however there is limited implementation of responses. Governments at various levels are starting to develop adaptation plans and policies and to integrate climate-change considerations into broader development plans.