Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies

Climate change terms and definitions

Adaptation: Change in policies and practices designed to deal with climate threats and risks. Adaptation can refer to changes that protect livelihoods, prevent loss of lives, or protect economic assets and the environment. Examples include changing agriculture crops to deal with changing seasons and weather patterns, increasing water conservation to deal with changing rainfall levels, and developing medicines and preventative behaviors to deal with spreading diseases.

Anthropogenic emissions: Greenhouse gases emissions that are caused by human activities. Also includes emissions of GHGs precursors and aerosols.

Carbon dioxide (CO2): The most wide spread greenhouse gas. CO2 is released to the atmosphere through natural and human activities, including fossil fuel and biomass burning, industrial processes and changes to land use, among others.

Carbon dioxide equivalent: A unit of measurement used to compare the climate effects of all greenhouse gases to each other. CO2 is calculated by multiplying the quantity of greenhouse gas by its global warming potential.

 Carbon dioxide intensity: An alternative to the use of total emissions of a country is the carbon dioxide intensity, which measures emissions per gross domestic product (GDP) of the country (Carbon dioxide emissions/GDP)

Carbon dioxide per capita: This measures carbon dioxide emissions per person. Bothe the carbon dioxide intensity and per capita are used to compare the emissions of different countries. For example, while China has taken over the lead in total greenhouse gas emissions, its per capita emissions level is far lower than that of other industrial countries.

Conference of the Parties (COP): are regular meetings of the governments that have signed an international treaty to discuss its status and possible revision.

Global warming; is the average increase in the earth’s temperature over time. Global warming is one manifestation of climate change. It is however, important to realize that warming trends are not uniform throughout the globe. Increases in the average temperature in one region of the world may produce far different results in another region.

Global warming potential (GWP): a measurement of the relative strength and potency of a greenhouse gas as well as its projected life span in the atmosphere. GWP is based on carbon, the most common greenhouse gas, and allows comparisons among different greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs): Atmospheric gases that cause climate change by trapping heat from the sun in Earth’s atmosphere-that is, produce the greenhouse effect. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapor. However, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) names the following as greenhouses:

Land use, land change use change and forestry (LULUCF): Land use is the set of activities that occur on any given parcel of land, such as grazing, forestry, or urban living. Changes to land use such as converting forestland to agriculture can release significant amount greenhouse gases. These activities are considered during climate negotiations and when planning emission reductions.

Mean sea level rise: the average global sea-level rise over time. Mean sea level eliminates variations due to tides, waves and other disturbances. Sea level is affected by the shape of ocean basins, changes in water quantity, and changes in water density. Climate change is expected to raise sea level by increasing glacier melts and sea temperatures.

Mitigation: Policies and behaviors designed to recue greenhouse gases and increase carbon sinks.

Resilience: The ability of natural or human systems to survive in the face of great change. To be resilient, a system must be able to adapt to changing circumstances and develop new ways to thrive. In ecological terms, resilience has been used to describe the ability of natural systems to return to equilibrium after adapting to changes. In climate change, resilience can also convey the capacity and ability of society to make necessary adaptation to a changing world-and not necessarily structures that will carry forward the status quo. From this perspective, resilience affords an opportunity to make system changes during adaptation, such as addressing social inequalities.

Reduction emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD): A policy that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. In principle, REDD provides financial incentives for countries to maintain and preserve forestlands as carbon sinks rather than them cutting down.

UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Adopted on 9 May 1992 and signed at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the convention established general principles to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations and prevent dangerous human-caused interference with the climate system.

Vulnerability: The degree to which an ecosystem or society faces survival risks due to adverse climate changes. Vulnerability includes the ability to adapt. The level of vulnerability determines whether an ecosystem or society can be resilient in the face of climate change.