Tracking adaptation to climate change

TRAC3 member Alex Lesnikowski (far left) presenting at COP21

TRAC3 member Alex Lesnikowski (far left) presenting at COP21

The Tracking Adaptation to Climate Change Consortium (TRAC3) presented their research findings on Saturday December 5 at an official COP21 side event titled “Tracking adaptation progress and enabling readiness.” Alex Lesnikowski, McGill doctoral student and project lead at TRAC3, joined a panel of four researchers seeking to develop global metrics to quantify climate change vulnerability and adaptation.

During the course of the conference in Paris, over 150 countries are seeking to agree on global goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they will also need to decide how much and what type of support will be given to citizens worldwide who need to adapt to the impacts from climate change. While the estimated costs of adaptation worldwide will reach $140 billion by 2050, the global community still do not have clear ideas of what successful adaptation means and there are no systematic means of tracking adaptation policy planned in countries and cities globally.

In response to these gaps, Ms. Lesnikowski presented her global Adaptation Initiative Index. The Index measures adaptation policy currently being undertaken in high-income countries. The Index facilitates an understanding of what adaptation policy looks like by classifying adaptation initiatives according to the vulnerabilities and sectors addressed, the stakeholders involved, the stage and approach to implementation, and whether vulnerable groups are explicitly supported.

The study also captures progress through time in producing adaptation policy. High-income countries experienced a 87% increase in adaptation policy planning between 2010 and 2014. Despite the increase in the raw number adaptation initiatives, the study found fewer initiatives addressing vulnerable populations – 2.28% of total initiatives focused on vulnerable groups compared to 4.67% in 2010. This finding highlights a significant gap in adaptation policy and suggests that vulnerable groups such as women, indigenous populations, and the elderly are not necessarily prioritized in climate policy by their national governments.

More information on the study can be fround in Lesnikowski et al.’s article in Nature Climate Change (, as well as through the TRAC3 website (

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