Tool 3: Screening for Climate Change Interactions

This section of the Climate Change Adaption Toolkit details Tool 3.
Tool 3 is designed to assist in mainstreaming the implementation of climate change adaptation across an organisation. It includes three key stages to be completed during the development and approval of new projects, proposals, administrative processes and in risk management. Throughout the tool, these inputs are collectively referred to as proposals.


Overview: Screening for Climate Change Interactions

Tool 3 aims to facilitate the consistent management of climate change during decision-making processes across an organisation. The tool outlines a process for ensuring sources of climate change risk and consequent adaptation strategies or actions are considered during development and approval of new projects, proposals, administrative processes and in risk management.

Figure 3.1 below illustrates the key stages included within Tool 3. Any proposed adaptation action developed during the use of Tools 1 and 2 as well as any proposals for new projects, new or altered processes or services should be passed through the stages outlined. These may include, for example, rezoning land, new developments or infrastructure upgrades, but also smaller changes that take effect on an operational scale only.

Diagram showing the relationship between stages 1, 2 and 3
Figure 3.1: Overview of Tool 3: Screening for Climate Change Interactions
The picture is a flow diagram that visualises how stage 1, 2 and 3 of Tool 3 relate to each other. This detail is also outlined in the text below.


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Assumed preparatory work

It is assumed that you will have a set of climate change risks (referred to as the climate change risk register) and associated adaptation actions (referred to as the adaptation actions register). These inputs are required to effectively use Tool 3. Tools 1 and 2 support the development of climate change risk and adaptation action registers.


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How to use Tool 3

Figure 3.2 below provides a detailed illustration of the process used in Tool 3 to mainstream climate change adaptation across an organisation. Each stage is further detailed below.

Diagram showing outline of tool 3
Click to Enlarge Image


Figure 3.2: Detailed illustration of process
This diagram is a flow diagram outlining Tool 3. It outlines the process starting with an organisational proposal feeding into stage 1 of the tool, a high level screening table to determine if there is an interaction with climate change variables or not. If yes, the diagram directs the process to stage 2. If no, the user has completed tool. Stage 2 requires the input of a register of climate change risks, vulnerabilities and adaptation actions. This register is then used to test if there is an interaction between the organisational proposal and either a climate change risk, vulnerability and/or adaptation action. Stage 3 outlines what to do if, a new climate change risk or vulnerability is generated, or if a current climate change risk or vulnerability is increased or decreased, or if the proposal interacts with a current adaptation action. Further detailed explanation is included in the text below.


Stage 1: Preliminary Screening for Climate Change Interactions

Stage 1: Preliminary Screening includes a table which can be used to identify potential climate change interactions with any new proposal. The table includes examples of risk sources and vulnerabilities and potential adaptation actions for each of the work areas that may exist within a local Council context. The primary decision maker for the new proposal under consideration should review the Screening Table in Tool 3 to gain a first pass understanding of whether climate change needs to be considered as part of their proposal. This includes climate change risks and adaptation actions. If there is no interaction, then the decision maker may opt out of the remaining stages of the process.

‘Interaction’ here means a situation where there is some association between the project and the subject matter or types of issues described in the table. We don’t say ‘overlap’ because ‘interaction’ is slightly broader than overlap. For example, if the organisation (for example a school) is thinking of closing a local football field due to budgetary constraints, ostensibly there is no overlap between this decision and emergency management. However, there is an interaction between the two, as football fields may informally perform vital functions as information or gathering hubs during emergency events.

Opt out point: Project proponents are able to opt out if there is clearly no interaction between their project and any of the work areas.


Stage 2: Detailed Review of Interactions with Climate Change Risks, Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Actions

Where there is an interaction, the primary decision maker needs to conduct a further search of the climate change risk and adaptation action registers to gain a more detailed understanding of how the proposal will interact with the climate change risk or adaptation action. In the case where the input into this screening process is an adaptation action itself, it may seem odd to be reviewing it against adaptation actions. However, you must still review this single adaptation action against all the other relevant adaptation actions listed to make sure there is no interaction. For example, you might be screening an adaptation action that involves creating a wildlife corridor to improve connectivity between potential habitats. Searching the adaptation action register, you discover that, if sea level rise passes a particular threshold, a defensive structure will be built on that land. Clearly, there is an interaction between these two adaptation actions that needs to be further investigated.

Things to consider whilst reviewing the climate change risks and adaptation actions should prompt you to understand whether your proposal:
  • Decision Tree A) Generates a new risk or vulnerability
  • Decision Tree B) Increases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk
  • Decision Tree C) Decreases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk
  • No interaction found
In this Toolkit, these are collectively known as interaction classes.


Stage 3: Determining the Class of Interaction and Action Required

The decision-maker should identify the nature of the interaction with the climate change risk and adaptation actions, and whether the interaction falls into one of the stated interaction classes. Once the decision maker has determined the interaction class, they can work through the relevant decision trees, which have been designed to explore the interaction.

The proposal however may interact with climate change risks and existing or planned adaptation actions. Stage 3 therefore includes two parts, Part A and Part B, each of which need to be considered during the process.

Part A: explores how climate change risk interacts with the proposal and includes the following interaction classes:
  • Decision Tree A) Generates a new risk or vulnerability
  • Decision Tree B) Increases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk
  • Decision Tree C) Decreases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk
  • No interaction found
Part B: includes the following Interaction Class
  • Decision Tree D) Interacts with an existing or planned adaptation action.
  • No interaction found
The decision trees associated with the interaction classes lead the user to a number of possible outcomes:
  • Decision Tree A) Proposal generates a new climate change risk or vulnerability. The new climate change risk:
    • Results in the proposal being redesigned or abandoned as a result of the seriousness of the new climate change risk that is generated
    • Is a priority risk, requires a responsible person to be assigned and completion of Tools 1 and 2.
    • Is a non-priority risk and requires a responsible person to be assigned
  • Decision Tree B) Proposal increases vulnerability to an existing risk
    • Results in the proposal being redesigned or abandoned as a result of the seriousness of the new climate change risk that is generated
    • Requires notification of risk owners, update of relevant documentation and depending on the extent of the change, repeating the activities contained in Tools 1 and 2.
  • Decision Tree C) Proposal decreases vulnerability to an existing risk
    • Requires notification of risk owners, update of relevant documentation and depending on the extent of the change, removal from the risk register.
  • Decision Tree D) Proposal interacts with an existing or planned adaptation action
    • Requires notification of adaptation action owners, review of trade-offs with changes either to the proposal or adaptation action with which it interacts, update of relevant documentation and depending on the extent of the change, removal or update of the adaptation action register.


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Worked examples

Worked examples are provided below including an illustration for each of the Interaction Classes.

Worked example for a local Council of Stages 1-3

Proposed action: Council has decided to rezone some vacant land on the coast for development
The proponents of the proposed action initiate screening for interactions with climate change risks/vulnerabilities and adaptation actions.

Stage 1: From an initial assessment of the Climate Change Screening Table, this proposed action interacts with a number of work areas:
  • Coastal planning
  • Asset management
  • Biodiversity
  • Open space
Stage 2: Action proponents then review the risk and adaptation registers to investigate this interaction in more detail.
  • A review of the risk register indicates there are a number of relevant specific risks. These relate to inappropriate development along the coastline, risks of inappropriate drainage systems in new developments, loss of open space and biodiversity leading to adverse community impacts
  • A review of the adaptation action register reveals there are a number of relevant adaptation actions: changing planning scheme to keep abreast of climate change science; establishing wildlife corridors to help wildlife autonomously adapt; maintaining significant quantities of open space within town boundaries.
At this point, action proponents must assess the action against relevant risks and adaptation actions identified. Most likely more information would need to be obtained to assist this process, and possibly external expertise sought. At the very least, the Council personnel assigned to each risk or adaptation action must be consulted.

Stage 3: By using five different factual situations within this scenario, the examples below further explain each of the potential interaction classes, and when each may arise.


Situation 1: No compatibility issue found

Context: A review of the piece of land, after discussions with the relevant Council/broader community experts, indicates that (a) it has no strategic biodiversity value; (b) it is on a highly stable cliff, sufficiently high above sea level that sea level rise, in the medium term, does not present a concern; the asset managers are confident that the low-density development will not present any significant drainage difficulties, and have upgraded the requirements for new systems to ensure they are more resilient in the face of climate extremes.

Conclusion: No compatibility issue present – the proposed action does not interfere with any adaptation actions or proposed adaptation actions, and will have no impact on any identified climate change risks.

Action: Appropriate documentation completed and proposed action can proceed.

Situation 2: Generates a new risk or vulnerability

Context: The land ear-marked for the rezoning includes a creek that has a key role in drainage for the area. Although there is still sufficient capacity in the creek to handle additional run-off from the development under current climate conditions, closer investigation reveals that if intense rain events increase, there would be a significant risk of flash flooding.

Conclusion: This action creates a new climate change risk - potential for flash flooding in this location.

Action: Proponents of action should work through the relevant decision-tree (A)for ‘generates a new risk or vulnerability’, to consider whether this action should be discontinued, or whether it should go ahead despite the additional climate change risk, and the new climate change risk be entered onto the climate change risk register. If the latter, advice should be sought on whether this new risk constitutes a ‘priority risk’, in which case the risk should be taken through Tools 1 and 2.


Situation 3: Increases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk

Context: The City already has a number of developments on low, unstable shorelines, and this proposed development includes a number of houses on a shoreline with these same geological characteristics.

Conclusion: The proposed action will exacerbate the City’s existing exposure to sea level rise
Action: Proponents of the action should work through the relevant decision-tree (B) for ‘increases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk’.
 

Situation 4: Decreases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk

Context: Previously, this land was underutilised, degraded farmland. Part of the development involves establishing considerable community open space – both passive and active. Previously, this area had limited access for community members.

Conclusion: The proposed action will potentially decrease social vulnerability, through providing open space for community building and recreation opportunities. There are proposed wetlands in the centre of the development that will function as ‘water-sensitive urban design’, with a role in water storage and decreasing runoff and stormwater collection requirements.

Action: Proponents of the action should work through the relevant decision-tree (C) for ‘decreases vulnerability to an existing climate change risk’ for each relevant risk to see whether any of the changes either warrant removing the risk from the register entirely, changing the risk’s associated documentation, or downgrading the risk from a priority risk.


Situation 5: Interacts with an existing or planned adaptation action

Context: A planned adaptation action has earmarked this particular piece of land as a possible adaptation corridor for a rare species of parrot, whose existing nearby breeding sites are likely to be impacted by climate change. This is a potential future action, as further research must be conducted to determine the adaptation action’s viability and likelihood of success.

Conclusion: The proposed action will interact negatively with a planned adaptation action, as the presence of a wildlife corridor is not compatible with the planned development.

Action: Proponents of the action should work through the decision tree (D) for ‘interacts with an existing or planned adaptation action’. There may need to be some form of trade-off between the proposed action and the existing adaptation action, depending on the extent of the incompatibility.


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Page last updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2018

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