PECS #11: Local vulnerability to climate change in Indonesia with JT Erbaugh

Abstract: Climate vulnerability is comprised of a community’s exposure, sensitivity, and ability to adapt to future climate hazards. Measurements of climate vulnerability often collapse these distinct yet interrelated components into a single index. Though indices provide a method for comparing vulnerability, they often depend on arbitrary cut-off points, and they do not provide sufficient information to guide communities or governments in the design of local adaptation to climate change (LACC). In contrast, vulnerability profiles provide information on the magnitude and combination of climate exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. To date, vulnerability profiles have not been scalable, and thus cannot provide regional information required for coordinating local investment in climate-smart development or assisting policymakers in addressing specific climate vulnerabilities. In this research, use hierarchical agglomerative clustering to generate regional vulnerability profiles across 80,736 Indonesian villages. Within six sub-regions across Indonesia, we find 61 vulnerability clusters that identify regional vulnerability according to predicted climate, land-cover change, population trends, and village-level development variables. Our initial consultations with village-leaders have thus far validated cluster assignments. Understanding how villages and regions are vulnerable to climate change, rather than focusing solely on the level of vulnerability they face, promises to better direct climate funding and support local adaptations to climate change.

Bio: James (J.T.) Erbaugh is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at Dartmouth College. He draws upon political theory, political ecology, and methods in causal inference to conduct research on environmental policy and governance. He specializes in the study of decentralized forest management, forest restoration and its contribution to local livelihoods, and local adaptations to climate change. His research has been published in Nature Ecology & EvolutionEnvironmental Research LettersWorld Development, and Forest Policy and Economics, among other outlets.