Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Law
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Research Handbook on Climate Change Adaptation Law

Edited by Jonathan Verschuuren

This timely Research Handbook discusses the challenges brought about by the need to adapt to a changing climate. It considers how adaptation is necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere which is already unavoidable due to past emissions.
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Chapter 6: Climate change adaptation and disaster law

Dewald van Niekerk


Climate change has been used as the bogeyman, the scapegoat, the el Hombre de la Bolsa if you may, to deflect attention from underlying issues which contribute to vulnerability in society such as poverty, social deprivation, lack of resources and poor education. Political advocates of climate change use the ‘unknown’ to drive agendas and, sometimes, misguide the layperson to achieve their own objectives. One such message is that we urgently need new action to adapt to and mitigate climate change. However, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that communities have been adapting to a changing climate for centuries. An undeniable fact, however, is that we are experiencing quicker and more unforeseen dramatic changes in climate. This is no truer in any other focus than in the realm of disaster risk reduction, where vulnerability reduction to hazard exposure is the main focus. Climate change adaptation, as with disaster risk reduction, is a transdisciplinary issue. Moreover, scholars and practitioners in the domain of climate and disaster risk science see these two concepts as largely complementary and inseparable. It is acknowledged that solutions to reduce the risk of disasters occurring also greatly solve climate change related issues. One undeniable fact of the impact of climate change is that the frequency and magnitude of hydrometeorological hazards is on the increase. This has a profound effect on the way in which communities and governments need to conduct their business. Governments will do well to acknowledge the interplay between actions for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

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