IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Adaptive capacity is uneven within nations due to multiple stresses

The capacity to adapt to climate change is not evenly distributed within nations. Adaptive capacity is highly differentiated within countries, because multiple processes of change interact to influence vulnerability and shape outcomes from climate change (Leichenko and O’Brien, 2002; Dow et al., 2006; Smit and Wandel, 2006; Ziervogel et al., 2006). In India, for example, both climate change and market liberalisation for agricultural commodities are changing the context for agricultural production. Some farmers may be able to adapt to these changing conditions, including discrete events such as drought and rapid changes in commodity prices, while other farmers may experience predominately negative outcomes. Mapping vulnerability of the agricultural sector to both climate change and trade liberalisation at the district level in India, O’Brien et al. (2004) considered adaptive capacity as a key factor that influences outcomes. A combination of biophysical, socio-economic and technological conditions were considered to influence the capacity to adapt to changing environmental and economic conditions. The biophysical factors included soil quality and depth, and groundwater availability, whereas socio-economic factors consisted of measures of literacy, gender equity, and the percentage of farmers and agricultural wage labourers in a district. Technological factors were captured by the availability of irrigation and the quality of infrastructure. Together, these factors provide an indication of which districts are most and least able to adapt to drier conditions and variability in the Indian monsoons, as well as to respond to import competition resulting from liberalised agricultural trade. The results of this vulnerability mapping show the districts that have ‘double exposure’ to both processes. It is notable that districts located along the Indo-Gangetic Plains are less vulnerable to both processes, relative to the interior parts of the country (see Figure 17.2).

Figure 17.2

Figure 17.2. Districts in India that rank highest in terms of vulnerability to: (a) climate change and (b) import competition associated with economic globalisation, are considered to be double exposed (depicted with hatching). Adapted from O’Brien et al. (2004).