Skip to main content

Justice, Fairness, Inclusion, and Performance.

									 Wivenhoe Dam spillway in 1 2011 Rob Williams Dean Saffron

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: A Comparative Study of Governance Processes in Australia, China, and the United States

April 05, 2024

View Standing Panel Report

In 2023, UN climate proceedings (COP 28) made clear that challenges of adapting to climate impacts are now a priority comparable to the focus on mitigation (greenhouse gas reduction). Floods, wildfires, drought, and heat are causing great damage in the U.S. and other highly developed countries which, on paper, were prepared.

The IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports that “governance” is the sole cross-continent “high-level constraint” on adaptation. Thus, in 2021, with NAPA and the Fudan University/London School of Economics Institute for Global Public Policy as lead sponsors, two dozen social/natural science, law, and business scholars and practitioners from Australia, China, the U.S. undertook to study how the countries are meeting climate impacts, what can be learned from comparing governance efforts, and how extant governance tools and approaches may need transformation.

The report explains that in contrast to mitigation (greenhouse gas reduction) and further now longstanding environmental governance approaches, adaptation may call for transformation of core governance structures, tools and resources. Mitigation efforts deploy strategies, such as reducing fossil fuel use/increasing renewables, greening building and infrastructure, that fit within the missions of traditional government organizations. Greenhouse gas reductions in one country will have a global effect.

Adaptation, by contrast, is locally focused, requiring levels of data and analysis not now available and consideration of complex interactions among many human and natural systems, and local capacity to use data and analyses. Adaptation will require governance to address the majority of NAPA’s grand challenges. This report seeks to set a framework for use by practitioners and scholars for learning from country efforts to reduce adaptation governance deficits.

Assembling a team of Australian, Chinese, and American scholars and practitioners, we have sought to make recommendations in a common framework.