date: Wed, 5 Aug 1998 11:39:35 +0100
from: Merylyn McKenzie-Hedger <merylyn.hedgeratXYZxyz.ox.ac.uk>
subject: US National Climate Assessment-ideas for UKCIP?
to: Tom Downing <tom.downingatXYZxyz.ox.ac.uk>, Megan Gawith <email@example.com>, John Orr <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "Tim Denne (ERM)" <email@example.com>
When I was in Washington for the IPCC meeting on tech transfer (on my
leave), I called into the USGCRP office (location of the IPCC TSU) and
talked with Mike McCracken of the US National Assessment of the
Consequences of Climate Change.
Their program is making rapid strides with a series of 20 regional
workshops almost completed for the entire country- each sponsored by
various government agencies and departments from EPA, DOI, DOE, USFA,
USDA to NOAA and NASA. They also have 5 sectoral teams covering
agriculture, forests, coastal zones, human health and water preparing
national assessments. They are due to report to Congress next April and
are also driven by what is the obvious- the US Country Studies Programme
has meant that more is known about impacts in developing countries than
the US (and indeed other Annex 1 countries.......).
I was given a set of very useful documents which I am sending round.
Their deliberations on strategy, approaches to climate scenarios and
socio-economic scenarios have mirrored ours but they have produced
different outcomes. Basically they are less worried about methodology,
integration,coherent structure and precedents and more concerned to get
things moving.(This may lead to problems down the line when they try and
put reports together although a data management group has produced
guidelines and templates for studies.) Their approach can be
characterised as an informal, CCIRG type exercise undertaken at a
regional level by stakeholders, led by a local university, and driven
from a policy and communications perspective. They have an on-going time
frame and will prepare synthesis reports as when required using what
information is available at that time.
I urge you to read the documents as they provide a stimulating
experience. Their approach seems to be useful for us particularly in
respect of the following:
1) Greater involvement of government agencies across the board ( I have
already raised this with DETR and hopefully this could lead to an autumn
meeting of Governmental Departments). But that doesn't meant the
agencies control the process- they are activating a nation-wide process.
It is viewed as a 'pioneering exercise in environmental policy with a
three way engagement among scientists, policy-makers and stakeholders'.
2) Climate scenarios etc-
a)they are using a historical climatology of the US since 1850 to
examine the potential consequences of continuation of past climatic
trends and future occurrence of past climatic variations;
b ) AOGCM simulations: They have decided to use the Canadian model
because it has daily data, and are distributing data in ASCII and
ARC/Info GIS format .
c) Development of regional scenarios by regional teams either by
downscaling or nested GCMs and also development of 'what if' scenarios
to cover specific vulnerabilities.
(The question of archiving data sets and providing user support has
only just been raised on the climate scenarios.)
3) They are trying to get 'stories' developed for different areas
around the main priority issues and key findings to attract public
interest. Some ideas already have been developed for some areas, more
were due to be developed at a mega workshop 2 weeks ago (National
Assessment Workshop in Monterey, CA ).
4) Their approach to regional workshops is interesting as they have got
wide stakeholder buy-in. They tackle them as brainstorming sessions
which generate lots of issues to study. They use national (Gore) and
'local' politicians Follow-ups are then focused on 2-3 issues. All
the workshops have addressed 3 questions:
a) What other environmental issues are you facing?
b) How will climate change amplify/ modify/ ameliorate these issues and
produce new stresses?
c) Information needs,
d) Win-win solutions.
5) On socio-economic scenarios they developed a very pragmatic but
effective approach suggesting that studies handling impacts cover two
types of variables: impact and context with a high and low range in each
case (2 x 2). The selection of these variables would be carried out
depending on the study. As a separate complementary exercise, ORNL has
been asked to generate background data on population, landuse and other
trends on a high-low range of confidence to provide an overall context
on a future world. Read the detail yourselves- it is quite robust and I
solves most of the problems we have encountered, in my view.
6) They seem to have got the US business community involved at a
regional level rather more successfully than we have so far which is
counter-intuitive. They play a greater stress on climate variability,
emphasise the exercise has nothing to do with Kyoto and that there is a
need to cope with the climate change which is occurring.