Climate Change Adaptation
Adaptation to climate change means actions taken to adapt to the current changes in climate conditions such as increased rainfall, higher temperatures, water scarcity or more frequent storms, or anticipating their changes in the future. The adaptation aims to minimize the threat and harm caused by the negative effects of climate change that are currently being incurred and anticipated in the future. Such actions include, for example, making more efficient use of scarce water resources, adapting construction requirements to future climatic conditions and extreme weather events, building flood barriers and raising the height of embankments to protect from sea level rise, cultivating drought-tolerant crop varieties, and choosing storm- and fire-resistant tree species and forestry methods.
Adaptation includes national and regional strategies and practical community or personal steps. Adaptation actions can be planned in advance or they can be a response to the conditions that have occurred. Both natural and human systems need to adapt to climate change. Ensuring sound investment throughout its life cycle, in the context of climate change, is an essential tool for increasing resilience to climate change impacts. Adaptation to climate change means the adaptation of natural and man-made systems to current or expected climatic phenomena and their positive or negative impacts. Adaptation aims to reduce the threat and damage of current and future adverse effects of climate change at the lowest possible cost.
The rapid scientific and technical progress of recent decades has not reduced but rather strengthened the dependence of human activities on meteorological and climatic conditions. For example, some of the latest and most productive varieties of agricultural crops are adapted to a particularly narrow range of agro-climatic conditions and, as a result, any deviation from the optimum reduces yields and product quality. Another example is the increase in traffic intensity in all modes of transport (air, water and roads). Even short-term adverse meteorological conditions (blizzard, drizzle, sandstorm, etc.) cause huge losses, disrupting the transportation of fuel, industrial raw materials, goods and passengers.
Natural systems are particularly sensitive to climate change due to their limited adaptive capacity. Social (anthropogenic) systems are less sensitive because of their greater potential for adaptation. The sensitivity of different regions to climate change and the nature of vulnerability are diverse.
The EU's adaptation strategy for climate change (to be updated in 2020) was adopted in 2013, setting the objective for the EU to become ready and capable of adapting to climate change at local, national and EU levels. Adaptation to climate change measures are integrated into EU sectoral planning documents and legislation.
In order to implement Lithuania's commitments under the Paris Agreement, EU legislation and the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, it is important to set climate change adaptation goals and targets for the most sensitive sectors. In Lithuania, the sectors most sensitive to climate change are agriculture, public health, energy, industry, transport and communication infrastructure, forestry, ecosystems, biodiversity, landscape, water resources and the coastal zone; urban areas are also important. Successful adaptation to climate change requires not only the contribution of the state but also initiatives by municipalities and the population, raising awareness, cooperating with scientists and strengthening resilience to damage caused by climate change. Coordination of disaster risks, emergency and natural phenomena management, prevention, warning systems, rescue actions and adaptation measures is important. Climate phenomena can affect different regions differently; therefore, municipalities need to respond appropriately to emerging challenges and strengthen regional cooperation.