Climate Change Adaptation

Climate Change Adaptation

An Earth Institute Sustainability Primer

Lisa Dale


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Climate change policy has typically emphasized mitigation, calling for reducing emissions and shifting away from fossil fuels. Yet while these efforts have floundered, floods, wildfires, droughts, and other disasters are becoming more frequent and potent. As the risks escalate, we must ask how to adapt to a changing climate. How might farmers modify their practices to maximize food security? Can coastal cities protect their infrastructure from rising seas? Are there strategic ways for developing countries to combine climate resilience with economic growth and poverty reduction? For people and societies around the world, these questions are not theoretical: adaptation is already underway.

This book offers a concise overview of climate adaptation governance. In clear, accessible language, Lisa Dale describes key strategies that governments, communities, and the private sector are now deploying. She presents the theory and practice that underlie climate adaptation efforts at local and global scales, providing illuminating case studies that foreground the problems facing developing countries. Dale analyzes the effectiveness of a range of policy interventions, drawing out principles of good governance and discussing how practitioners can navigate complex tradeoffs. She emphasizes equity and inclusion, considering how climate adaptation policy can account for the needs of historically disadvantaged groups. Written for a wide audience, this book is an invaluable introduction for all readers interested in how societies can meet the challenges of an altered climate.


Lisa Dale:
Lisa Dale is a lecturer in the undergraduate program in sustainable development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Her expertise extends from wildfire policy in the American West to the impact of climate adaptation policies on smallholder farmers in rural sub-Saharan Africa.