Although some solutions are well known, new approaches are constantly emerging and must be tested to assess their suitability. “Sometimes, we have to work through trial and error”, emphasizes the expert. Planting trees to absorb carbon, desalinating seawater, storing water in “mega-basins”, building dyes or focusing on cooling European settlements… all these strategies have been implemented to control climate change or adapt to its effects. . However, not all were successful. Their failures are sometimes synonymous with counter-productiveness. these”Bad ideas” has a name: the false match.
1. What is it?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines this concept as “”Actions that may increase the risk of adverse climate-related outcomes, including increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increased or altered vulnerability to climate change, greater inequitable outcomes, or reduced well-being.”.
However, not everything is black or white, recalls Bernard Mathieu. “On the one hand there is a continuum between strategies that maximize the resilience of a fully successful and sustainable society, and on the other hand, worst-case scenarios that maximize the reality of those of us who want to do the right thing. vulnerability.” It is characterized precisely A study published in 2020 Lisa Shipper, a researcher at Oxford University’s Institute of Environmental Change, developed a spectrum model of responses ranging from adaptation to maladaptation. Ineffective coping, he says, is sitting in the middle, whether the outcome is positive or negative. Maladaptation can reinforce or redistribute an existing vulnerability or create a new source of vulnerability. But the researcher insists: “The transition from adaptation to maladaptation is subtle and rapid. Similarly, a strategy may have positive results but lead to poor adaptation.
2. What are the reasons?
The researcher’s research highlights three main categories into which examples of maladaptation derived from the scientific literature are divided: infrastructures, behavior or institutions. For example, she explains itA study It showed that farmers with weather risk insurance changed their behavior. “Among these changes are drought tolerant subsistence crops, favored cash crops over intercropping or moisture conservation strategies. That means farmers depend on insurance”, the researcher underlines.
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This example is no exception. In fact, the IPCC definition states that a misfit is often an unintended consequence. “One of the most frequent reasons is not spending enough time studying local realities and not understanding the roots of local people’s vulnerability.Bernard Mathieu, who has been comparing adaptation to development cooperation projects as his field of expertise for over 20 years, believes. According to him, in both cases, “The heart of success is knowing the local context”. Be it geography, climate exposure, culture of actors and stakeholders in the field, gender related experiences etc. This is what Lisa Shipper highlights in her work.
3. How to avoid it?
However, avoiding the wrong transition is not easy. “It’s a huge work in progress.”, assures Bernard Mathieu. Within the European Union, the “REGILIENCE” project (for regional pathways to climate sustainability) was developed A self-assessment framework. The tool, which comes in the form of 17 questions, identifies key elements that lead to maladaptive change. But the problem remains complex. “The ability to detect it before it happens is intrinsically linked to the challenge of assessing adaptation”, the researcher notes. “Different interpretations of the scope and purpose of adaptation partly explain why it is difficult to determine when adaptation has achieved its purpose.”, she adds. Defining “successful adaptation” is a major challenge scientists still face.
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During the sixth assessment round of the IPCC, Working Group 2 (WG2) undertook the first global assessment of the scientific literature on human adaptation. “The IPCC report provides little evidence for effective mitigation of risks linked to implemented responses“, Analysis In an article Alexandre Magnon is a researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). “Thus, the report cannot conclude whether we are on a path to adaptation or a path toward higher levels of risk and/or widespread maladaptation., he adds. The expert therefore believes that it is necessary to continue scientific research, including assessing the potential for false positives. According to him, the IPCC’s seventh assessment cycle, which began last July with the election of new president Jim Scheia, could address the question in a special report at the request of the international community.
Adaptation will be discussed at the end of the year during the COP28 organized in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), as the first global assessment – Global Stocktake in English – should be approved there. It aims to assess the measures implemented by various countries in relation to the trajectory defined by the Paris Agreement, but also to examine the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation and the support that has contributed to these strategies.
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