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Cascading climate change impacts and implications

Lawrence J, Blackett P, Cradock-Henry NA. 2020. Cascading climate change impacts and implications. Climate Risk Management. 29:100234. doi:10.1016/j.crm.2020.100234.


Climate change is expected to have negative impacts and implications across physical and human systems. However, our understanding of how the effects may cascade and compound to form multiple impacts across sectors is limited. The combined effects of interacting stressors may affect the ability of individuals, governments, and the private sector to adapt in time before widespread damage occurs. We interviewed engineers, local government staff, and risk managers and analysts from the financial services sectors about cascading impacts and implications in Aotearoa New Zealand. We also analysed the increased frequency of high-intensity rainfall events, sea-level rise and drought. We looked at the impact of these changes across urban systems (including the underlying support systems that enable services for urban populations) and rural systems, and their links to water management (stormwater, wastewater, and water supply). We also look at the financial services sector (insurance and banking), and governance. The research shows planning for future impacts in a linear manner without consideration for other effects will conceal flow-on and feedback loops that can lead to responses that are not fit for purpose.

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