A toolkit for climate change with stakeholders at its core

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ImageThere is now a set of tools that can help countries assess how vulnerable their energy sector is. Such assessments will be critical for countries to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The toolkit―HEAT, a Hands-on Energy Adaptation Toolkit, has its roots in work done in 2008. At that time, I contributed to an Eastern Europe and Central Asia wide paper that took stock of projected climate impacts to understand the countries or sectors that were most vulnerable, and to get some sense of the level of exposure. I worked with colleagues to explore what this meant in an energy context.  Our starting point was to ask a series of questions: what changes were we concerned about? How could they affect energy planning, design and operations? How big a risk did this pose to energy security? What experience was there in coping with these issues? 


What emerged was enlightening. Many countries are increasingly vulnerable to changes in seasonal weather patterns, weather variability and extreme events e.g. droughts, floods, heat waves―that can affect the production and supply of energy and affect seasonal energy demand. The degree of exposure depends on the amount of change, how the sector is sensitive to or is affected by these changes and the ability to cope with impacts. This is further exacerbated by socio-economic and inherited issues (e.g. inefficient use of energy and water resources) that affect the coping or adaptive capacity of a country. Out of all we learned, came the development of HEAT.


The how-to of the toolkit grew out of country based pilots in Albania (2009) and subsequently Uzbekistan (2010). The key was to put stakeholders at the core of the process―bringing together government, private sector, civil society and academia/ research institutes―to arrive at a prioritized list of energy risks and adaptation options tailored to country circumstances.


In Albania for example stakeholders agreed on the following objective for the assessment: “How can Albania best manage its future security of energy supply in the face of a changing climate?” Albania is over 90% dependent on hydropower and facing significant challenges in maintaining energy security due to weather variability that reduces power supply by around 50% in a dry year compared to a wet yet. Projected climate change could further reduce power supply by an average of 20% by 2050. The climate vulnerability, risk and adaptation assessment helped energy stakeholders identify near term priorities to support climate smart development – better weather forecasting and information, attention to adaptation deficit (energy losses, water losses, and energy efficiency), integration of climate considerations into new investments and rehabilitation of existing assets as well as energy planning.


HEAT translates this practical experience into a usable process for other countries or sector practitioners wishing to engage on these issues. HEAT provides an interactive step-by-step guide, as well as an analytical framework and support tools, to help policymakers consult with stakeholder groups to scope out climate risks and vulnerabilities. It then provides guidance on developing and selecting among options to manage these risks, as well as monitoring and evaluation. While the examples in HEAT are focused on the energy sector the approach to stakeholder engagement and risk assessment could be readily transferred to other sectors.


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