What can be learned from comparing country adaptation to climate change?

10 Nov
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm (GMT+8)
Room 3598 (lift 27/28), Academic Bldg, HKUST
Division of Public Policy
Professor Dan Guttman
Professor Xiaofan Zhao

The impacts of climate change are increasingly unmistakable and intense. Adapting to these impacts requires deep local knowledge. The severity of threats from both extreme events (e.g. floods, fires, heat, and drought) and slower-moving changes (e.g. sea level rise) varies among communities and even across areas within them. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that “governance” is the sole “high-level constraint” in addressing “adaptation” to climate change in all parts of the world. As summer 2023 floods, wildfires, and heat waves punctuate, death and damage tolls are too often shocking, even where impacts are increasingly predictable and predicted. How are governance systems, including their formal and informal elements, responding to this challenge? For example, are governments changing traditional approaches to disaster relief? How effective will any new strategies be? This talk will discuss the work of an Australia/China/US comparative adaptation project, which hopes to create a framework for use by scholars and practitioners who are working on adaptation.


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Professor Dan Guttman
Professor, Tianjin University Law School
Adjunct Professor, Fudan University Institute for Global Public Policy
Fellow, New York University US-Asia Law Institute

Dan Guttman is a teacher and lawyer and has been a public servant. He served as Executive Director of a Presidential bioethics advisory Commission, was presidentially appointed Commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, directed US, Senate investigations of US government management, and was a UNDP and EU “foreign expert advisor” on China environmental law. He is Professor, Tianjin University Law School, adjunct professor, Fudan University Institute for Global Public Policy, and fellow, New York University US-Asia Law Institute. Following two years as China Fulbright scholar, he taught and worked with colleagues at Peking, Tsingha, Nanjing, and Shanghai Jiao Tong Universities. In the US, he taught for many years at Johns Hopkins. He is a lawyer at Guttman, Buschner and Brooks, whose lawyers have represented whistleblowers in litigation recovering billions for government from fraud by energy and health care companies and military contractors. He authored/co-authored many books and articles, shared in journalism awards, testified many times before Congress and other public bodies, and was graduated from Yale Law School. He is a Fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration and co-chairs the International Panel.

Professor Xiaofan Zhao
Assistant Professor, Division of Public Policy

This seminar is about how climate change impacts are becoming more severe and require local knowledge for adaptation. Extreme events and slow changes affect different communities differently. Governance is the main constraint in addressing adaptation globally. Summer 2023 has seen shocking death and damage tolls, despite predictable impacts. How are governance systems responding? An Australia/China/US project aims to create a framework for adaptation scholars and practitioners.