Handling climate risks and uncertainties in decision-making
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Handling climate risks and uncertainties in decision-making. Climate Impacts Forecasting for Slopes (CLIFFS) Launch meeting 26 October 2005. Michelle Colley UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) www.ukcip.org.uk. What is UKCIP?.

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Michelle Colley UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) ukcip.uk

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Handling climate risks and uncertainties in decision-making

Climate Impacts Forecasting for Slopes (CLIFFS)

Launch meeting

26 October 2005

Michelle Colley

UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP)


What is UKCIP?

  • The UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP) helps organisations assess how they might be affected by climate change, so they can prepare for its impacts

  • Set up 1997; funded by Defra

  • Programme of the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment

  • Stakeholder-led research using:

    • Common tools & experience

    • Intelligent access to datasets

    • Guidance & support for studies & partnerships

    • Web access to all tools

UKCIP tools

Handling climate risks and uncertainties in decision-making

  • Range of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, climate models & scenarios – unknown probabilities

  • Natural climate variability too

  • Uncertainty about impacts these climate changes will have on any system

  • Uncertainty about whether adaptation measures will work

  • How can decisions be made?

UKCIP/EA decision-making framework

  • Framework describes process for appraisal and management of risks and uncertainties

  • Similar to others used for corporate risk management – recognisable to decision-makers

  • Bringing ‘climate adaptation’ and ‘risk management’ worlds together

  • Enables climate risks to be ‘mainstreamed’ within existing processes

Take a balanced approach to managing climate and non-climate risks


Define what makes the correct decision

  • Need operational criteria for risk assessment and options appraisal

  • Take account of defined thresholds and risk attitude (optimistic, precautionary/risk averse, least regret)


(Based on Hewitt & Burton (1971); Smit et al (2000); Jones (2001))


Give appropriate attention to all sources of uncertainty

  • Information on low probability / high consequence events may be most uncertain – but risk assessment may show these are highest risk

  • Identify important climate risk factors – priorities for adaptation

  • Uncertainty in non-climate risks and impact models may be of equal or greater significance than uncertainties over present or future climate hazards

  • Thresholds-based approach may help focus attention on critical uncertainties



Use adaptive managementto cope with uncertainty

  • Put in place incremental adaptation options, rather than undertaking large-scale adaptation in one fell swoop

  • Keep open / increase options that allow climate adaptation in future, when need for adaptation and performance of different measures is less uncertain

  • E.g. Flood management: It may be sensible to allow for future increases in defence height, while not building to a higher standard immediately

  • Circular, iterative framework promotes

    adaptive management



Try to find no- or low-regretadaptation options

  • ‘No regret’: deliver benefits that exceed their costs, whatever the extent of climate change

  • E.g. If already experiencing weather-related problems, carry out cost-effective actions to deal with them

  • ‘Low regret’: low cost, potentially large benefits under climate change

  • E.g. Building climate change in at the design stage for new drainage system – make pipes wider



Try to find win-win options

  • ‘Win-win’ options contribute to climate adaptation and also to other objectives

  • E.g. Creation of salt-marsh habitat provides flood protection for coastal areas and also contributes to nature conservation objectives


Avoid actions that will make it more difficult to cope with climate risks

  • Adaptation-constraining decisions make it more difficult for you, or others to manage future climate risks

  • E.g. Inappropriate development in a flood risk area


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