Are developed nations adapting to climate change?

Ford, J. Berrang-Ford, L, and Patterson, J. In review at: Env. Res Letters

We identify and characterize if and how climate change adaptation is taking place in developed nations. Using adaptation reporting in peer reviewed studies as an indicator of adaptation action, we find that adaptation is taking place, particularly in sectors that are exposed and sensitive to climate impacts, including the transportation, infrastructure, and utilities sectors. Adaptations are being most commonly implemented at the municipal level, facilitated by national government interventions via funding and guidance. Over 90% of publications report adaptation responses to be institutional in nature involving developing management strategies, plans, policies, regulations, guidelines, programs or operating frameworks to guide current or future planning. Thirty eight percent of articles describe adaptations that are structural in nature involving investments in hard infrastructure. There is negligible description of adaptation taking place with respect to vulnerable groups (elderly, females, children, non-Arctic Indigenous peoples) although interventions are underway in vulnerable regions (e.g. Arctic, coastal zones). The majority of interventions involve action being taken prior to the onset of expected, anticipated or predicted climate change impacts. While the nature of many adaptations being implemented are consistent with scientific identification of best practice, we caution that intentional adaptation actions are only described in small subset (2%) of publicationson climate change adaptation, reporting is unequal by region and sector, with barriers to adaptation widely noted and expected to constrain current interventions. Continued monitoring of the evolution adaptation action is therefore required.