Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.

Author:Powell, Brenda Heelan

There is clear scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is happening and will cause unavoidable and irreversible impacts. Despite the full implications of climate change remaining uncertain, there is a recognized need to act locally, provincially, nationally and internationally in order to mitigate harm to people and the planet arising from these climate change impacts. While mitigation efforts are necessary to slow the rate of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, we are already experiencing impacts from climate change and need to build the capacity to cope with these impacts, especially as they escalate into the future. Both mitigation and adaptation efforts will be crucial going forward.

Impact of Climate Change in Alberta

Research suggests that Alberta will experience changes to its water resources (reduced snow accumulation, glacier retreat, decreased water quality, increased extreme hydrological events), ecosystems (decreased biodiversity, phenological mismatches) and soil (increased landslides, wind erosion and desertification), among other changes.

The extent to which Alberta (and the rest of the world) experiences climate change impacts will depend upon the extent of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses that in order to prevent huge damage to people and the earth, we must strive to limit global warming to only 1.5 degrees Celsius. A recent IPCC report found that the world outcomes will be vastly different in a 1.5-degree world or in a 2-degree world (the latter of which is a real possibility without immediate action).

What is Climate Change Mitigation?

Mitigation focuses on lowering our GHG emissions to prevent further global warming. Often, mitigation focuses on two categories--increased energy efficiency and a transition to renewable energy.

Increased energy efficiency means using less energy to accomplish the same tasks. For example, this could mean updating building codesso that houses use less energy to heat and cool rooms or regulating higher standards for appliances. This category is often purported to be the most cost effective way to mitigate our effects on the climate.

While important and effective, improved energy efficiency will only do so much toward mitigation. As our population continues to grow, we will use more energy and resources, especially as climate change increases extreme weather events. This is where renewable energy comes in.

Renewable energy usually refers...

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