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Perspectives on contentions about climate change adaptation in the Canary Islands: A case study for Tenerife

Authors:
Perspectives on contentions
about climate change adaptation
in the Canary Islands
A case study for
Tenerife
Yeray Hernández-González, Ângela
Guimarães-Pereira, Sergio Rodríguez,
Emilio Cuevas and Paulo Barbosa
2016
EUR 28340 EN
This publication is a Technical report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science
and knowledge service. It aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking
process. The scientific output expressed does not imply a policy position of the European Commission. Neither
the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that
might be made of this publication.
Contact information
Name: Yeray Hernández-González
Address: Via Fermi, 2749, 21027 Ispra (VA) Italy, Building 100 Office 1107
Email: yeray.hernandez@jrc.ec.europa.eu
Tel.: +39 0332 78 3821
JRC Science Hub
https://ec.europa.eu/jrc
JRC104349
EUR 28340 EN
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ISSN 1831-9424
doi: 10.2788/282252
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ISSN 1018-5593
doi: 10.2788/8586
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How to cite this report: Yeray Hernández-González, Ângela Guimarães-Pereira, Sergio Rodríguez, Emilio Cuevas
and Paulo Barbosa, Perspectives on contentions about climate change adaptation in the Canary Islands: A case
study for Tenerife, EUR 28340 EN, doi: 10.2788/282252
All images © European Union 2016
i
Contents
Acknowledgements ................................................................................................ 3
Abstract ............................................................................................................... 4
1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 5
2 Multiple climatic and anthropogenic hazards ......................................................... 7
2.1 Heatwaves .................................................................................................. 7
2.2 Dust from the Sahara desert ....................................................................... 11
2.3 Air pollution .............................................................................................. 12
2.4 Multi-hazard events ................................................................................... 15
2.5 State-of-the-art in climatic-related adaptation policies ................................... 18
2.5.1 Heatwaves ........................................................................................ 19
2.5.2 Saharan dust events .......................................................................... 21
2.5.3 Air pollution ...................................................................................... 21
2.5.4 Multi-hazard policies .......................................................................... 22
3 Material and methods: participatory integrated assessment for climate change
adaptation pathways ............................................................................................ 24
3.1 The participatory integrated assessment applied ............................................ 26
3.2 Step I: institutional analysis and participatory techniques ............................... 28
3.2.1 Press review ...................................................................................... 29
3.2.2 In-depth interviews to experts and stakeholders .................................... 30
3.3 Step II: focus groups ................................................................................. 30
4 Results: implementing steps I and II .................................................................. 32
4.1 Step I. Institutional analysis: framing climate change in Tenerife ..................... 32
4.1.1 Stakeholders participating in the in-depth interviews and a questionnaire . 32
4.1.2 Stakeholders’ opinions on the issue and the existing policies ................... 34
4.1.3 Differences in stakeholders’ opinions .................................................... 42
4.1.4 Uncertainties detected ........................................................................ 45
4.2 Step II: A focus group to frame climate policy in Tenerife ............................... 45
4.2.1 Framing the issue altogether ............................................................... 48
4.2.2 Proposals for policy actions and assessment criteria ............................... 48
4.3 Step II: Citizen engagement ....................................................................... 50
4.3.1 Framing the issue altogether ............................................................... 51
4.3.2 Proposals for policy actions ................................................................. 51
5 Discussion ...................................................................................................... 52
5.1 Some policy lessons ................................................................................... 52
5.2 The way forward ........................................................................................ 53
6 Conclusions .................................................................................................... 54
7 References ...................................................................................................... 55
ii
List of figures ...................................................................................................... 64
List of tables ....................................................................................................... 65
Annexes ............................................................................................................. 66
Annex 1. On-line questionnaire ......................................................................... 66
Annex 2. Focus group Agenda with experts and stakeholders ................................ 66
Annex 3. News in 2040 .................................................................................... 67
Annex 4. Focus groups with citizens ................................................................... 70
3
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank Giuseppe Munda (Human Capital & Employment, Joint Research Centre)
for useful comments and suggestions during the implementation of the participatory process. To
María del Cristo Monagas, Ph.D. candidate for the Department of Applied Economics of University
of La Laguna for facilitating stakeholders' contacts. We also thank the next people for actively
participating in the project: Serafín Corral Quintana (Department of Applied Economics,
University of La Laguna); Pedro Javier Dorta Antequera and Abel López (Department of
Geography, University of La Laguna); Juan Pedro Díaz (Department of Physics, University of La
Laguna); José María Fernández-Palacios (Department of Ecology, University of La Laguna);
Roque Calero Pérez (Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria); Basilio Valladares Hernández and Pilar Foronda Rodríguez (Institute of Tropical
Diseases and Public Health); Marcelo Sabanes (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk
Reduction); José Luis Martín Esquivel (Teide National Park, Council of Tenerife); Fernando
Herrera Hernández (Department for Pollution Control of the Government of the Canary Islands);
German Brito Hernández (Department for Land-use Planning and Sustainability of the
Government of the Canary Islands); Eduardo García-Ramos Alonso (Department of Epidemiology
and Prevention of the Government of the Canary Islands); Elena López Villarrubia (Department
for Public Health of the Government of the Canary Islands); Jorge Bonnet (Department for the
Environment and Landscape of the Council of Tenerife); Pedro Valladares (Department for Civil
Protection of the Council of Tenerife); Juan Jesús Bermúdez (CCOO trade union); Francisco Javier
Bermejo Sánchez (UGT trade union); Catalina Darias Delgado (Intersindical Canaria trade
union); Eustaquio Villalba (ATAN environmentalist group); David Calvo Fernández (INVOLCAN);
and Ezequiel Navio Vasseur (Climatic Action Group of the Council of Gran Canaria).
Authors
Hernández-González, Yeray
Guimarães-Pereira, Ângela
Rodríguez, Sergio
Cuevas, Emilio
Barbosa, Paulo
4
Abstract
This technical report describes a case study on policy for adaptation to climate change delivered
to DG-CLIMA. It is aimed at exploring climate change adaptation scenarios as well as concrete
actions to increase climatic resilience in a small European island: Tenerife, Canary Islands
(Spain), the largest and most populated of the seven islands of the Canaries. The effects of
climatic and non-climatic hazards on local population health and ecosystems are reviewed, such
as heatwaves, air pollution and the atmospheric dust which comes from the Saharan dessert.
The potential combination or overlapping effects of these hazards are also explored.
According to the literature reviewed, heatwaves, air pollution, and Saharan dust events have
been producing negative effects on the population, in terms of both morbidity and mortality, as
well as the environment, such as forest fires related impacts. In terms of health impacts, elderly
and people with chronic diseases are those more vulnerable to the previous hazards. As a
consequence of both population ageing and the expected increasing extreme weather events,
vulnerability is believed to worsen.
There are currently a certain number of policies at both the Canary Islands scale and at Tenerife
scale that, either directly or indirectly, might deal with the multiple hazards analysed here.
However, most of these policies have neither been specifically developed to increase the
resilience against heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution, nor to deal with their
potential interactions. Therefore, their possible capability need to be explored along with other
potential adaptation options.
In order to do so, a participatory integrated assessment is proposed based on three steps: (1)
a first one intended to define the issue under analysis and frame the problematique of adaptation
to climate change in Tenerife by means of in-depth interviews and a questionnaire; (2) a second
step envisioned to explore scenarios to increase the island resilience as well as concrete actions
to reduce the vulnerability to heatwaves, Saharan dust intrusion, and air pollution, by means of
focus group sessions; and (3) a last step projected to build the scenarios for resilience (this third
phase will be carried out in a later stage). For this purpose, different participatory techniques
have been applied, such as questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group sessions,
involving local key stakeholders as well as citizens and lay people.
One of the findings of the analysis is that there is a lack of institutions in charge of climate
change policy issues. According to most of the participants, the Islands need an institutional
structure in charge of mainstreaming climate change policy into private and public institutions.
A second finding indicates that an integrated climate change risk management plan is also
needed as well as the investment in high-resolution regional climatic models.
The following part of this study will be devoted to build scenarios for Tenerife. As it emerged
from the present study, local citizens are not only concerned about adaptation to climate change,
but also about how to be more resilient against external shocks, including extreme weather
events as a consequence of climate change. Thus, those scenarios, still to be built, will propose
paths that Tenerife may walk through from current times to 2040 in order to increase its
resilience. These scenarios would concentrate on energy, agriculture, and food dependency, as
well as other driving forces that might affect Tenerife’s resilience.
5
1 Introduction
Extreme weather events (
) have been increasing globally as a consequence of climate change,
including warm extreme temperatures (IPCC, 2014b). Both, warm days and nights have
increased globally, and heatwaves (
) have become more frequent, especially in Europe (EEA,
2012a, 2016; Kovats et al., 2014). Heatwaves are expected to occur more and last longer (IPCC,
2014b), whilst Southern Europe is expected to be the most affected area in terms of hot weather,
experiencing the highest heatwave exposure (Kovats et al., 2014).
Impacts related to heatwaves might expose ecosystems and human health to significant
vulnerability (IPCC, 2014b). European inhabitants suffer heat-related mortality, especially older
people and those with chronic diseases (Kovats et al., 2014). The hottest summer in Europe in
the last 500 years was observed in 2003, leading to high death rates (EEA, 2014) that caused
70,000 deaths in 12 European countries (EEA, 2015b). By 2050, heatwaves are expected to
produce 120,000 additional deaths annually in the European Union, especially among older
people (EEA, 2015b, 2016). Morbidity is also co-related to warm spells. In fact, it is known that
skin eruptions, fatigue, cramps, syncope, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke might occur as a
consequence of heat exposure (WHO, 2004).
Heatwaves are not only impacting on human health, but also on other species and ecosystems,
as well as critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, transport and energy infrastructure, as a
consequence of material overheating (Kovats et al., 2014; see alto Table 1). For instance, the
heatwave of 2003 produced damages to road and rail transport systems, interrupted energy
supply, and increased waterway transport prices as a consequence of low water levels (Kovats
et al., 2014).
Table 1. How climate impacts affect urban living, working and moving.
- Decreased
comfort
- Health risks
- Increased energy
use for cooling,
decreased for
heating
- Reduced labour
productivity
- Increased energy
use for cooling,
decreased for
heating
- Discomfort on
public transport
- Rail buckling
- Increased energy
use for cooling,
decreased for
heating
- Health and safety
risks
- Damage to
houses
- Damage to
economic assets
- Transport route
blockage
Source: EEA, 2016.
Since these impacts threaten the environment, societies, and economies, a certain number of
adaptation policies have been carried out across Europe. Thus, France implemented in 2011 an
adaptation policy in this direction as a consequence of the heatwave produced in 2003 (EEA,
2014). It consisted of preventing negative health effects through the provision of information to
the general public when occurring heatwaves. Other local places in Europe have also developed
heatwave stress prevention plans, such as the ones in Emilia-Romagna and Milan (Italy),
(
) The IPCC define extreme weather events as “(…) an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year” (IPCC,
2014b, p. 123; IPCC, 2014a).
(
) Defined as “(…) periods of more than 5 consecutive days with daily maximum temperature exceeding the mean
maximum temperature of the May to September season of the control period (19712000) by at least 5°C” (Kovats et
al., 2014, p. 1277).
6
Botkyrka (Sweden), Geneva (Switzerland), Budapest (Hungary), and Stuttgart (Germany) (EEA,
2013a).
Additionally, heatwaves can be a contributing factor of air pollution. Thus, heatwaves usually
appear together with tropospheric ozone (O3), influenced by precursor air pollutants (nitrogen
oxides, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons) along with meteorological determinants (EEA,
2015a). Therefore, high O3 concentration levels are usually observed during major heatwaves in
Europe (EEA, 2015a, 2015b; Kovats et al., 2014). These concentrations have caused not only
morbidity in terms of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (EEA, 2015b), but also about
20,000 premature deaths per year in Europe (EEA, 2012a). Furthermore, an increasing
concentration of O3 levels has been projected by means of future climate change scenarios (EEA,
2012a) (
).
Since heatwaves and air pollution are usually co-related, adaptation and mitigation policies can
reinforce each other, bringing substantial co-benefits to society (EEA, 2016; IPCC, 2014b). For
example, Belgium has developed a specific plan for heatwaves and O3 peaks to deal with its
increasing frequent combination (EEA, 2013a). Thus, the reduction of O3 precursor emissions
became an adaptation strategy as well as a mitigation one.
The present study will analyse the effects of climatic and non-climatic hazards (heatwaves, air
pollution, and atmospheric dust), as well as their potential combination (see Fig. 1) on a small
European island: Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain). This study is aimed at developing scenarios
for resilience and concrete adaptation actions for Tenerife by means of key local stakeholders’
engagement. The conclusions will be delivered to DG-CLIMA.
Figure 1. Underlying causes of multiple hazards in Tenerife
Source: own elaboration based on the participatory techniques applied.
Note: the discontinuity between heat waves and Saharan dust indicates that winter dust season (November March)
are not necessarily associated with high temperatures.
The following sections of this report are organised as follows: in section 2 the case study will be
presented; the state-of-the-art regarding both climate change related impacts and existing
policies will be provided. Section 3 is devoted to present the methodology to be applied in this
case study. Section 4 will present the results of the analysis and these results will be discussed
in section 5. Lastly, in section 6 the conclusions obtained in this study will be highlighted.
(
) Particulates (PM10) are also related to hot weather (EEA, 2012a).
7
2 Multiple climatic and anthropogenic hazards
In this section the specific characteristics of multiple hazards in Tenerife will be reviewed. As
presented in the previous section, the present case study will focus on the potential combination
of climatic and anthropogenic hazards (multiple hazards) that either in an isolated manner or
altogether may increase population health and ecosystems’ vulnerability.
Initially, these hazards will be presented separately in order to understand their specific causes
and consequences. Later on, in a second stage, these hazards will be presented as multiple-
hazard analysing possible interactions.
2.1 Heatwaves
Climate in the Canary Islands is mild, due to the influence of the template NNE trade winds and
the cool waters of the subtropical North Atlantic. These conditions prevent these Islands of the
extreme weather conditions of the nearby Sahara, the largest and among the hottest desert in
the world. Episodically, cool trade wind weakens and easterly Saharan air reaches the Canaries.
These Saharan air masses may prompt high temperatures, drops in relative humidity, down to
~15% (Dorta, 1991) and the presence of suspended desert dust.
These heatwaves are mainly produced between spring and autumn (Dorta, 2007), usually
reaching temperatures of 44-45 degrees (Dorta, 1991). However, the Island Council of Tenerife
has considered heatwaves as those temperatures exceeding 30 degrees (Cabildo de Tenerife,
2016). Night heat events reach national maximums between 26-30 degrees (Dorta, 2007).
The most dangerous heatwaves took place on August 1990 and July 2004 (Dorta, 2007; see also
Fig. 2), although other relevant heatwaves can also be seen in Table 2. According to Alonso-
Pérez (2007), these episodes might have acquired more intensity and frequency in the Canary
Islands since 1970. In fact, according to Fig. 2 (right graph), the average number of heatwaves
has quadrupled since 1994. The left graph in Fig. 2 also indicates that among the 10 strongest
heatwave’s force indexes recorded over the whole period, 5 have been detected during 2004-
2007. Other authors also mention that a general rise of temperatures is expected for the Canary
Islands (Martín et al., 2012), intensified in upper parts of the islands (Expósito et al., 2015;
Martín et al., 2012).
Figure 2. Heatwave frequency and intensity in the Canary Islands (1984-2007)
Source: Sanz et al., 2007.
8
Table 2. Main heatwaves in Tenerife (1950-2004).
Episode
Degrees
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
July 1940
August 1952
September 2006
40.4
42.6
39.3
Tenerife North Airport
August
July
41.2
41.4
Tenerife Sur Airport
September 1986
August 1988
July 2007
41.8
44.3
42.9
Source: AEMET, 2016.
According to the World Health Organization, the most relevant predisposing factors for heat-
related illnesses are being elderly, having impaired cognition (such as dementia), pre-existing
diseases, use of certain medications, low level of hydration, living alone, poor housing (such as
living in a certain building type or on the top floor), the lack of air-conditioning at home or
residential institutions (WHO, 2004). Thus, the last heatwaves registered in the Canary Islands
have left 13 premature deaths, more than any other meteorological hazard (Dorta, 2007).
According to the Canary Islands Statistic Institute (ISTAC, 2016d), the number of elderly people
in Tenerife were almost 128,000 in 2015, representing 14% of the population, whilst in 2000
they were about 80,000 (11%). An increasing number of elderly people is also expected in the
future, if we attend to the population pyramids shown in Fig. 3. This will probably increase the
number of vulnerable people, especially in a context of growing frequency of heatwaves and
Saharan dust events in the Islands (Martínez, 2010; Sanz et al., 2007).
9
Figure 3. Population pyramids for Tenerife. Years 2000 (upper) and 2015 (lower)
Source: own elaboration based on ISTAC, 2016d.
In Table 3 additional information data on potential population vulnerability can also be seen. For
example, the proportion of homes with air conditioning is low (
), whilst there is a relevant
percentage of population living alone. Besides, the percentage of inefficient building is quite
relevant as well, since more than 84% of homes are F-G energy class, i.e. the lowest in terms
of isolation efficiency.
(
) It should be noted that the availability and use of air-conditioning devises helps population to adapt to heatwave
events. However, since they consume increasing quantities of energy, air-conditioning usage contribute with climate
change. This is the typical measure that could be understood as maladaptation (Barnett and O'Neill, 2010).
12,176
19,563
22,116
26,269
30,645
33,385
33,050
30,981
26,001
22,043
19,885
18,528
16,135
16,369
12,336
9,167
5,993
3,941
1,903
0-4 YEARS
5-9 YEARS
10-14 YEARS
15-19
20-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-59
60-64
65-69
70-74
75-79
80-84
85-89
>90
Women Men
17,815
21,542
21,346
20,769
24,285
29,196
34,554
39,460
40,056
38,132
34,697
28,406
23,999
21,482
18,417
14,227
12,152
6,592
3,434
0-4 YEARS
5-9 YEARS
10-14 YEARS
15-19
20-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-59
60-64
65-69
70-74
75-79
80-84
85-89
>90
Women Men
10
Table 3. Vulnerability indicators for heatwaves. Data for Tenerife (year 2013).
Homes with air conditioning
10,2%
Homes with uninsulated windows
11,6%
Homes with electricity problems
7,6%
People living alone
22,5%
People unable to move
9,2%
Energy efficient homes (class A) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class B) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class C) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class D) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class E) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class F) (1)
Energy efficient homes (class G) (1)
0.5%
1.4%
3.2%
3.0%
7.6%
7.7%
76.6%
(1) Refers to the Canary Islands.
Source: own elaboration based on IDEA, 2015 and ISTAC, 2016a.
Heatwaves might also be a contributing factor to forest fires, leading to power distribution
network damages and, therefore, blackouts, affecting public transport (tram transport mainly)
and public services (IPCC, 2014a). Other related impact concerns road accident risks as a
consequence of increasing heat-stress conditions (Koetse and Rietveld, 2009). In Tenerife, the
number of forest fires have been increasing in the last fourteen years (see Fig. 4).
Figure 4. Number of forest fires in Tenerife (period 2000-2014)
Source: own elaboration based on ISTAC, 2016c.
Among 20 and 40 forest fires usually occur in annual basis, except for the years 2002 (with 17
forest fires) and 2012 (with 48). In terms of hectare of forest burnt, on average 33 hectare have
burnt per fire event, but years 2007 and 2012, where almost 17,000 and 7,000 hectare were
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
11
burnt (ISTAC, 2016c). The forest fire occurred in 2007 has been considered one of the worse
ever recorded in the Canary Islands (Huesca et al., 2008). This fire could not be early controlled
because adverse environmental conditions (high temperatures, low humidity and moderate to
strong wind) present during its inception.
Thus, pine affected forests have been said to be related to negative effects on endemic bird
communities characteristics in Tenerife (García-del-Rey et al., 2010), as well as to partial
damage of aerial seed bank and/or the formation of unfavourable seedbed environments for
growth and seedling development (Otto et al., 2009). Other studies indicate, however, that pine
forest fires may have some positive effects on soil quality (Hernández et al., 2013).
2.2 Dust from the Sahara desert
There are two dust seasons in the Canary Islands, one in winter and other in summer. In the
winter dust season (November March) Saharan dust events are associated with the easterly
winds prompted by the occurrence of high pressure expanding from the North Atlantic over
Western Europe and North Africa (Alonso-Pérez et al., 2011a). These events may induce
extremely high concentrations at ground level (up to 2,000 µg/m3 have been recorded) and are
not necessarily associated with high temperatures. Dust concentrations has increased by a factor
2 since 1980 due to an enhancement in dust export to the Canaries due to a strengthening and
eastward shift of the Azores High (Alonso-Pérez et al., 2011b).
In the summer season (July and August) dust events are associated with the circulation of the
dusty Saharan Air Layer (SAL) - i.e. the hot and dry airstream that expands from North Africa
to the Americas - over the Canary Islands. The SAL results in hot, dry and dust air between 500
m.a.s.l. and 5 km.a.s.l. over the Canary Islands, whereas trade winds prevails below. A unique
long term record of aerosol chemistry and dust at Izaña Observatory (Tenerife), started 3
decades ago, have shown that this summer dust export in the SAL has been modulated by large
scale climate related processes by the so-called North African Dipole Intensity (NAFDI), i.e. the
intensity of the North African high (over Northern Algeria) to the tropical monsoon (Rodríguez
et al., 2015). Recent long-term analysis (1941-2013) of aerosol optical depth retrievals obtained
at Izaña Observatory shows that there is an important multidecadal variability in summer dust
export connected to NAFDI and North Atlantic ocean temperature long-term variability (García
et al., 2016). The Canary Islands have historically received Saharan dust as a consequence of
large scale meteorological processes that involve mid-latitude waves, the NAFDI and the Saharan
Heat Low (Cuevas et al., 2016; Rodríguez et al., 2015). Thus, when this event takes place, the
air of the Canaries become dusty and «naturally» polluted with particulate matter (PM10). See
Fig. 5. In addition to the dust events in these two seasons, other scattered and sporadic episodes
may occur along the year.
Figure 5. Saharan dust events in the Canary Islands
Source: image of Saharan dust on the Canary Islands, captured by NASA.
12
Saharan dust events are therefore a common natural climatic condition that usually occur several
times along a year (Dorta, 2007). This dust intrusion could also be understood as natural air
pollution (see next section), since the air of the Canaries are impacted by mineral dust particles,
surpassing 100 μg/m3 and sometimes even 1,000 μg/m3 (Alastuey et al., 2005; Alonso-Pérez et
al., 2007; Dorta et al., 2005; Viana et al., 2002). One natural consequence of these events is
that the average PM10 background level could be estimated at 14 μg/m3 of total suspended
particles (Alonso-Pérez, 2007; Alonso-Pérez et al., 2007).
In terms of socio-economic impacts, reduced visibility tend to affect both airports and their
transport services (Dorta, 2007; see also Table 4). However, the impacts on human health are
one of the most relevant ones, since respiratory pathologies, anxiety disorders, and atypical
thoracic pain usually affect local population (García et al., 2001). Other studies have reported
allergic diseases leading to increased use of air liquid as a respiratory therapy (Belmonte et al.,
2010). It has also been testified that Saharan dust events might be related to the introduction
of microbial communities (González et al., 2013).
Table 4. Expected Saharan dust-related impacts in the Canary Islands.
Impacts on critical infrastructure
Airport service disruptions due to reduced visibility
Social impacts
Car accidents due to reduced visibility
Health-related impacts
Negative health effects on people with chronic diseases
Environmental-related impacts
Forest fires
Source: Gobierno de Canarias, 2006.
Since this natural event is related to air pollution, and might therefore be considered as one
relevant cause of poor air quality (Baldasano et al., 2014), Saharan dust will be indirectly treated
in the next section too.
2.3 Air pollution
Tenerife has three main areas affected by air pollution (see Fig. 6). The first one is the
metropolitan area, which is formed by two Municipalities, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and San
Cristóbal de La Laguna. The second area is located southwest of the metropolitan area, and it is
formed by the Municipality of Candelaria, Arafo, and Güímar (called Valley of Güímar). Lastly,
the third area, which expand over three Municipalities (Arico, Arona, and Granadilla de Abona)
is larger and is located south, the most important touristic area of Tenerife.
Figure 6. Areas affected by air pollution
13
Source: own elaboration based on Ecologistas en Acción, 2014 and SIMAC, 2008.
Air pollutant emissions in these three areas are associated with different sources (see Table 5):
power plants (located in Valley of Güímar, in Granadilla de Abona and in COTESA within the
refinery of Santa Cruz de Tenerife), oil refining (Santa Cruz de Tenerife), and vehicle exhaust
(SIMAC, 2008). Vehicle exhaust emits carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOX), black
carbon and ultrafine particles, whereas power plants, the oil refinery, onshore shipping (maritime
transport) are associated with heavy oils burning and pollution due to sulphur dioxide (SO2),
heavy metals (including nickel and vanadium), organic compounds and ultrafine particles
(González et al., 2011; González and Rodríguez, 2013; SIMAC, 2008).
Local and regional pollution transport is strongly modulated and influenced by the sharp
orography of the island, being the Metropolitan area the most affected by air stagnation and
subsequent specific strong pollution events (Milford et al., 2008).
The metropolitan area is affected by different pollutants, especially particulate matter (PM10 and
PM2.5) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). Concentrations of these pollutants have also been above the
limit value recommended by the World Health Organization in their Air Quality Guidelines (
)
(Ecologistas en Acción, 2014). Thus, the number of days exceeding PM10 daily limits are between
four and fourteen, meanwhile the average annual value is also surpassed; the number of days
exceeding PM2.5 daily limits are between four and nine days, whilst SO2 daily value is exceeded
four days a year. The concentrations of SO2 have exceeded the European Air Quality Limit Value
for the health protection, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA, 2013b), and this
has resulted in the activation of the Air Quality Plan for the Government of the Canary Islands
with legal implications for decreasing SO2 emissions by a 29% (BOC, 2014). Scientific studies
have also alerted on the high concentrations of heavy metals and industrial pollution under
adverse meteorological conditions (Alastuey et al., 2005; Ares et al., 2011).
Table 5. Sources of air pollution in Tenerife.
Air pollutant
Source
PM10
Energy production
Refinery
Maritime and road transport
Saharan dust
Ocean salt
PM2.5
Refinery
Maritime and road transport
SO2
Refinery
Energy production
Maritime and road transport
O3 (1)
Refinery
Energy production
Road transport
Long range transport processes
(1) O3 is a secondary air pollutant. This means that O3 is formed by photochemical reactions between sunlight and
nitrogen oxides (NOX), as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Source: Guerra et al., 2004 and SIMAC, 2008.
(
) These limits can be consulted in WHO (2006).
14
The Valley of Güímar is not only affected by the same pollutants as the metropolitan area, but
also by O3. The exceedances of this pollutant can be seen in Fig. 7. These pollutants are also
exceeding the WHO recommendations (Ecologistas en Acción, 2014). Thus, the number of days
exceeding PM10 daily limits are between nine and twelve; four exceedances for the PM2.5 daily
limits is also pointed out; forty-one exceedances for the eight-hour O3 value have been detected;
and between nine and forty-nine exceedances for the SO2 daily value have also been reported.
Figure 7. 93.2 percentile of O3 maximum daily 8-hours mean value in 2013
Source: EEA, 2015a.
Note: The map shows the 93.2 percentile of the O3 maximum daily 8-hour mean, representing the 26th highest value
in a complete series. It is related to the O3 target value, allowing 25 exceedances over the 120-μg/m3 threshold. At sites
marked with red and dark-red dots, the 26th highest daily O3 concentration exceeded the 120-μg/m3 threshold, implying
an exceedance of the target value threshold. Only stations with > 75% of valid data have been included in the map.
The Southern area share the same problem as the Valley of Güímar in terms of air pollutants
(Ecologistas en Acción, 2014), except for O3 concentrations, that are more relevant in this area
(see Fig. 7 above). The number of days exceeding PM10 daily limits are between ten and eighteen,
meanwhile the average annual value is also surpassed; between four and ten exceedances for
the PM2.5 daily limits are also detected, as well as the annual average value; thirty exceedances
for the eight-hour O3 value have been reported; and twenty-nine days for the SO2 daily value as
well.
Ozone is a secondary air pollutant that forms within the range of hours to days after the
emissions of their gaseous precursors (volatile organic compounds, NOX and CO). Because NNE
inland winds prevails along the Eastern coast of the Island, the Valley of Güímar to the Southern
area receives aged polluted air resulting in higher O3 impacts compared to other parts of the
Island. This is illustrated in the conceptual model (Fig. 8) of Guerra et al. (2004). In this
conceptual model, background levels of O3 are associated with long-range transport, whereas
values above it are due to ozone formation within Tenerife (Guerra et al., 2004; Rodríguez and
Guerra, 2001; Rodríguez et al., 2004).
15
Figure 8. Conceptual model for the air pollutant dispersion and long-range-transport in Tenerife
Source: Guerra et al, 2004.
Note: (A) Left: Vertical structure of the low troposphere, showing the limit of the oceanic boundary layer (OBL), inversion
layer (IL), free troposphere (FT). Right: Vertical contour of Tenerife showing the southward dragging of pollutants and
the stratocumulus cloud mantle (Sc) stagnant in the northern side. PP: oil-fired power plant, R: refinery; SC: Santa Cruz
city. (B) Scheme of O3 behaviour, sources and sinks. (C) Trade winds pattern (thin short lines) and pathways of the
polluted air masses (long coarse lines) in the boundary layer of Tenerife.
There are evidences on impacts of air pollution in Tenerife. The Hospital Universitario de Canarias
and the Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre found that exposure to ultrafine particles is
associated with hospital admissions due to heart failure (Domínguez-Rodríguez et al., 2011),
whereas black carbon has been associated with Acute Coronary Syndrome (Domínguez-
Rodríguez et al., 2015, 2016). Other studies have also observed relationships between NO2 and
the ejection capacity of the heart (Domínguez-Rodríguez et al., 2013a) and between SO2 and
obstructive lesions and Acute Coronary Syndrome (Domínguez-Rodríguez et al., 2013b).
It has also been detected concentrations of potential pollutant particles in pine forests in
Tenerife, possibly related to traffic emissions as well as sulphur transported from the industrial
areas of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Candelaria (Tausz et al., 2005). Meanwhile, it is also known
that the exposure of vegetation to O3 might imply injuries in Tenerife’s vegetation (Guerra et
al., 2004).
2.4 Multi-hazard events
The combination of the previous climatic and anthropogenic hazards might be produced as a
consequence of the combination of (BOC, 2014; Rodríguez et al., 2008; SIMAC, 2008):
16
1. Emissions of air pollutants by different sources (see the previous section).
2. Thermal inversion layers.
3. Saharan dust events.
4. Local orography.
5. Local wind.
Summer dust events are associated with meteorological conditions that have several
environmental implications. Aircraft measurements and satellite observations (Prospero and
Carlson, 1972; Tsamalis et al., 2013) have shown that the dusty, hot and dry Saharan Air Layer
typically expands between 1 and 5 km.a.s.l. over the ocean. Atmospheric soundings have shown
that during intense events, the SAL occurs above 500 m.a.s.l. over Tenerife, shifting the typical
inversion layer associated with the trade winds to lower altitudes and resulting in high
temperatures in the forest of the Island that typically occurs between 600 and 1800 m.a.s.l.
These high temperatures represented an increased risk of forest fires, whereas the shifting to
low altitudes of the inversion layer is typically associated with severe pollution episodes of
industrial origin in the metropolitan area, due to the emissions of the oil refinery and shipping
in the harbour of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Alastuey et al., 2005; CSIC-AEMET-UHU, 2010).
The most important sources of air pollutants in Tenerife are located along the Eastern coast of
the Island (harbour and oil refinery in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Caletillas and Granadilla power
plants). The prevailing NNE trade winds coupled with the inland sea breeze blowing during
daylight prompts the inlands transport of these pollutants. In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the inland
sea breeze blowing results in the inland transport of the SO2 plumes from the refinery and from
harbour, prompting fumigations of SO2, sulphuric acid and ultrafine particles to the population
of the city from 10 to 17 GMT (González and Rodríguez, 2013; Rodríguez et al., 2008). This
situation worsens under summer SAL conditions due to the concentration of the air pollutants at
low altitudes linked to the downward shifts of the inversion layer and to heterogeneous reactions
between pollutants and Saharan dust (Alastuey et al., 2005; CSIC-AEMET-UHU, 2010). A similar
scenario occurs in the Valley of Güímar, where the inland NNE winds drag the pollutants
transported from the metropolitan area and emitted in Candelaria power plant to the interior of
the Valley to the central ridge that crosses the Island (Fig. 9). In fact, traces of these air
pollutants are transported upward across the forests to Izaña Observatory at 2,400 m.a.s.l.,
where they are detected during the upward upslope winds (García et al., 2014; Rodríguez et al.,
2009). This transport of air pollutants within the Güímar Valley have implications on the
residential areas (Fig. 6, coloured in pink).
When all these climatic factors appear together along with the emission of pollutants, the
concentration of toxic air pollutants tend to exceed the recommended levels (see section 2.3).
Thus, hot weather and air pollution (both natural and anthropogenic) stifle main island cities
(see Fig. 9).
17
Figure 9. Multiple hazards in Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Note: the upper picture refers to hot weather, dust, and air pollution events acting simultaneously; the bottom picture
only refers to an air pollution event (taken by Sergio Rodríguez).
The combination of these multiple hazards, their risk level and their derived effects can be seen
in Table 6. Thus, the risk level of having heatwaves have been assessed as «high», meanwhile
Saharan dust events as «moderate». Industrial environmental pollution is considered as «low»,
although the concentrations of air pollutants have been exceeding the World Health Organization
recommendations (see section 2.3). Heatwaves might be related to Saharan dust, but also to
different sort of fires, environmental pollution and infrastructure collapse. Saharan dust events
are also connected with heatwaves, public service and infrastructure collapse, environmental
pollution and transport accidents as a consequence of reduced visibility.
Table 6. Climatic and anthropogenic hazard interactions in Tenerife.
Hazard
Risk level
Derived effects
Risk level
Heatwave
High
Saharan dust
Forest fires
Critical infrastructure collapse
Moderate
Very high
High
Saharan dust
Moderate
Environmental pollution
Critical infrastructure collapse
Transport accidents
Low
High
Very high
Forest fires
Very high
Critical infrastructure collapse
High
Environmental pollution (1)
Low
Critical infrastructure collapse
High
(1) Only industrial environmental pollution is considered, i.e. other air pollution sources are not included, such as road
transport.
Source: Cabildo de Tenerife, 2016.
18
More than 386,000 resident people are potentially exposed to these multiple hazards, and almost
59,000 are elderly people, i.e. 15% of the population under analysis (see Table 7). Most of the
population that might be affected by these multi-hazards live in the metropolitan area (53%),
although the touristic area is also relevant in terms of population (34%). The same can be said
for elderly people: most of them live in the metropolitan area, followed by the touristic area.
Table 7. Population potentially affected by multiple hazards (year 2015).
Hot-spot
Municipality
Population
Elderly (>65)
Metropolitan area
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
203,811
36,215
Valley of Güímar
Arafo
Candelaria
Güímar
Total
5,499
26,490
18,777
50,766
1,012
3,699
3,126
7,837
Touristic Area
Arico
Arona
Granadilla de Abona
Total
7,327
79,928
44,846
132,101
1,313
9,103
4,376
14,792
Source: own elaboration based on ISTAC, 2016d and SIMAC, 2008.
Additionally, about 32,000 tourists live in a daily-basis in the areas considered as hotspots (see
Table 8). Therefore, it could be argued that around 418,000 people might be vulnerable to the
multiple hazards analysed in this case study, including both local and touristic population.
Table 8. Tourists potentially affected by multiple hazards (daily-basis, year 2015).
Hot-spot
Municipality
Beds available
Tourists (1)
Metropolitan area
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
2,732
1,871
Southern Area
Arona
Granadilla de Abona
Total
42,254
1,193
43,447
28,940
817
29,757
Total
46,179
31,628
(1) Own estimation based on the number of beds available and the island average occupation rate.
Source: own elaboration based on ISTAC, 2016b and SIMAC, 2008.
Once climatic and anthropogenic hazards have been exposed, the existing climate change
adaptation-related policies in Tenerife will be reviewed in the next section.
2.5 State-of-the-art in climatic-related adaptation policies
The existing climatic and non-climatic related policies potentially useful for the case study can
either be regional (i.e. covering the whole Canary Islands), or insular (i.e. only covering
Tenerife). Moreover, these policies can either be directly focus on the hazards analysed here or
indirectly. These policies are the next:
19
Canary Islands scale:
1. Adaptation:
Canary Islands Climate Change Adaptation Plan (Martínez, 2010).
2. Civil Protection:
Civil Protection and Emergency Plan (Gobierno de Canarias, 1997).
Civil Protection against Extreme Weather Events Plan (Gobierno de Canarias, 2006).
3. Population Health:
Plan for the Prevention of Negative Effects of High Temperatures (Servicio Canario de
Salud, 2006).
4. Air quality:
Clean Air Plan (SIMAC, 2008).
Clean Air Plan for Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a consequence of SO2 (BOC, 2014).
Island scale:
1. Civil Protection:
Disaster Risk Management Plan (Cabildo de Tenerife, 2012b).
Civil Protection and Emergency Plan (Cabildo de Tenerife, 2016).
2. Land-based Transport:
Land-based Transport Plan (Cabildo de Tenerife, 2012a).
In the next sections these policies will be briefly reviewed, in order to detect what specific
measures are proposed to deal with heatwaves, Saharan dust events, air pollution, and possible
hazards’ interactions.
2.5.1 Heatwaves
The Canary Islands has available (although not passed into law) a specific plan for adaptation to
climate change (Martínez, 2010). Two measures are proposed in this document so as to improve
the resilience against heatwaves. On the one hand, the investment in Research & Development
tools is proposed to predict what areas might be affected by heatwaves, as well as the localization
of those areas by means of Geographic Information Systems. On the other hand, the use of
information and educational campaigns to help inhabitants reduce heatwaves effects is also
considered.
At regional scale, two civil protection plans intended to protect the islanders against natural and
anthropogenic risks can also be cited (Gobierno de Canarias, 1997, 2006). The first plan assumes
heatwaves as a natural risk that might occur in the Canary Islands, considering a series of
measures to deal with all risks (Gobierno de Canarias, 1997). The most relevant measures
established for heatwaves are:
1. Information campaigns through radio, TV and the Internet, so as to inform the public on the
occurrence of potential catastrophic events, as well as potential self-protection actions that could
be undertaken to reduce its effects.
2. Additional health assistance services if necessary.
3. Measurement of damages either on the population or infrastructure.
The second civil protection plan is specific to protect the islands against extreme weather events
(Gobierno de Canarias, 2006). This plan establishes a series of measures for both the general
public and the Island Councils. They are both presented in Table 9 (recommendations for the
general public) and Table 10 (recommendations for decision-makers).
20
Table 9. Regional Government recommendations to the general public on heatwave protection.
Protect yourself from sunlight and drink water frequently
Stay at cold places as much as possible either outside or at home
Make use of blinds at home to avoid overheating
Open the windows during night
Make use of air-conditioning devises. If the devises are not available, visit Shopping Centres
Make use of either cups or hats, as well as light blank clothes
Walk on the shadow, stay under the umbrella in the beach and rest in fresh-air conditioned places
Never leave children and elderly people in the car
Avoid outdoor physical activities at mid-day
Eat fruits and vegetables, and avoid hot foods
Do not drink alcohol
Help other people: visit more frequent elderly people who are known to live alone
Consult the GP on the effects of medication during heatwaves
For other information, call the emergency number 0-12
Source: Gobierno de Canarias, 2006.
Table 10. Regional Government recommendations to the Island Councils on heatwave protection.
Protect yourself from sunlight and drink water frequently
Inform and warn decision-makers and other members of the Council
Pay attention to the meteorological forecast. Establish mechanisms of surveillance and information
Inform and warn those in charge of recreational areas so as to take proper actions if necessary
Warn the Council’s environmental services of the current situation
Foresee the resources needed and its availability in advance
Guarantee wildfire prevention as well as a quick response against forest fires
Make use of Governmental information systems
Establish patrol and surveillance units to prevent forest fires
Cut off the circulation of roads affected by forest fires and inform the most affected populations
Assess the possibility to shut down activities (sport, schools, cultural,…)
Source: Gobierno de Canarias, 2006.
The Government of the Canary Islands has also available a plan for the prevention of the effects
of high temperatures (Servicio Canario de Salud, 2006). This one is rather focused on population
health. It is intended to activate levels of alert and provide specific additional services depending
on the temperatures. Thus, “green” level means no risk. The “yellow” level is considered as “risk
alert” when temperatures are above the threshold values for at least two days. In this level the
health system should detect people at risk in order to provide appropriate attendance. The
“orange” level is activated when the heatwave last three or four days at least. Meanwhile, the
“red” level indicates that the heatwave is prolonged for more than five days and, apart from the
provision of the previous additional services, the civil protection units may also be activated.
Lastly, at the Island scale of Tenerife, there also is a plan to prevent natural disasters using
land-use planning strategies (Cabildo de Tenerife, 2012b). However, this plan neither deal with
21
heatwaves, nor Saharan dust events, nor air pollution, since, according to the authors, these
climatic and anthropogenic hazards cannot be coped with land-use actions.
2.5.2 Saharan dust events
The civil protection and emergency plan for the Canary Islands considers the intrusion of Saharan
dust as a natural climatic hazard (Gobierno de Canarias, 1997). As mentioned above, this hazard
is dealt with the same measures (1 to 3) proposed in the previous section (see section 2.5.1).
The adaptation plan for the Canary Islands proposes three measures to deal with Saharan dust
events (Martínez, 2010). The first one highlights the need for Research & Development tools so
as to have a better information system to predict and localize potential affected areas. The
second measure is intended to create better warning system to provide population with
information on how to reduce its potential impacts. Meanwhile, the last measure points out the
necessity of implementing an analysis on how reduced visibility might affect transport
infrastructure and transport service provision (air, maritime, and land-based transport).
There is another specific plan for civil protection at the Canary Islands scale (Gobierno de
Canarias, 2006). This plan establishes a series of self-protection measures for the general public
(see Table 11).
Table 11. Regional Government recommendations to the general public during Saharan dust events.
Protect yourself from sunlight and drink water frequently
Close the doors and windows at home. Avoid going out in case of chronic respiratory diseases
Be sure of having your medication at home
Drink as much water as possible and avoid the exposure to dry environments
Avoid physical activity during the event
In case of feeling unwell, visit your GP
In case of driving, pay attention to the road, turn on the lights and slow down speed
Source: Gobierno de Canarias, 2006.
2.5.3 Air pollution
The adaptation plan for the Canary Islands considers the implementation and upgrading of the
current air quality surveillance system to prevent health-related impacts of air pollution
(Martínez, 2010).
The civil protection plan for the Canary Islands presents environmental pollution as a specific
technological associated risk linked to the refinery or power stations (Gobierno de Canarias,
1997). However, a more specific plan to deal with air pollution is presented in SIMAC (2008).
This document establishes the areas affected by air pollution in Tenerife, the sources of pollution,
and how they interact with the specific meteorological conditions. It also provides a series of
specific measures to deal with the air pollution produced in the areas reviewed in section (2.3).
These measures are twofold: transport-related and industry-related. Transport measures are
focus on:
1. Technological improvement to guarantee a reduction in exhaust emissions while maintaining
road transport traffic continuity.
2. Improving public transport.
3. Building park-and-ride infrastructure to ease the trespass from cars to public transport.
4. Switching off cars in congested roads.
Among the measures mentioned in SIMAC (2008) to manage industrial pollution (either from
the refinery or the power stations) are:
22
1. Establishing an air pollution forecast system to analyse how the air pollutants behave once
they are emitted into the atmosphere.
2. Shutting down certain production activities in the power stations when specific meteorological
events occur.
3. Introducing technical and technological improvements to reduce the emissions of pollutants.
4. Using “cleaner” fuel.
Even though the SIMAC (2008) is a document covering the whole Canary Islands, the problems
related to SO2 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, has made necessary to have a specific document for
this pollutant in the capital city of Tenerife (BOC, 2014). Several measures are proposed, such
as technical and technological improvements so as to reduce the emissions, as well as to
incorporate, within the refinery, a Protocol that must be activated when certain meteorological
conditions appear.
At the island scale, there is a land-based transport policy (Cabildo de Tenerife, 2012a) intended
to increase transport sustainability and, therefore, reduce car emissions by means of the
implementation of both railways and tram infrastructure (
). However, this policy also considers
the expansion of road infrastructure across the island, which may induce new car trips (Marina
and Marrero, 2012).
2.5.4 Multi-hazard policies
The climate change adaptation plan for the Canary Islands also considers several measures to
deal with multiple hazards (Martínez, 2010). Concretely, the combined effects of heatwaves and
air pollution episodes. Among the measures proposed are:
1. Encouraging public transportation systems.
2. The provision of walking and cycling infrastructure to reduce the effects of smog on local
cities.
The civil protection plan against natural or anthropogenic-derived risks developed for Tenerife
(Cabildo de Tenerife, 2006), proposes a certain number of measures (see Table 12). However,
these measures are neither specific to deal with heatwaves, nor Saharan dust events, nor air
pollution.
(
) A critique to this land-based transport policy and a proposal of more sustainable options can be consulted elsewhere
(Hernández, 2014; Hernández and Corral, 2016).
23
Table 12. Existing measures that might be related to climatic and non-climatic hazards.
Action
Measure
Explanation
Protection
Warning
Inform population regarding the emergency through
local media
Information
Inform population about self-protection measures
Confinement
If necessary, inhabitants will be suggested to remain
at home
Health assistance
If necessary, first aid systems will be activated to
attend human health
Intervention
Damage
measurement
Damages will be assessed (on population, property,
and environment)
Risk assessment
The associated risks will be assessed as well as the
area mostly affected
Control and
surveillance
The area affected will be followed-up
First aid
“Come to the aid”
People affected might be attended by sanitary workers
or moved to hospitals
Source: Cabildo de Tenerife, 2016.
24
3 Material and methods: participatory integrated assessment for
climate change adaptation pathways
Adaptation to climate change requires integrated approaches (EEA, 2016). According to
Hernández and Corral (2016, p. 202), an integrated approach could be defined as «the
combination of existing and/or new methodologies intended to significantly improve scientific
analysis of any complex issue». These authors have identified that integrated assessment can
be implemented either using technocratic approaches (where only experts define and propose
solutions to specific issues) or by means of participatory processes (when not only experts but
also stakeholders and the general community participate in the framing and problem solving).
In Table 13 some examples of both approaches can be seen.
Adaptation to climate change is a recurrent environmental issue for the integrated assessment
community, either for technocratic approaches (Cai et al., 2016; Krol and Bronstert, 2007; Paas
et al., 2016) or for participatory ones (Andersson et al., 2015; Gain and Giupponi, 2015; Li et
al., 2015; Melgarejo and Lakes, 2014; Rivington et al., 2007; Webb et al., 2013). Technocratic
approaches are based on the combination of different sectoral models. They consist of the
provision of a «multi-level and interdisciplinary framework that brings together and synthesizes
scientific knowledge from relevant disciplines» (Ewert et al., 2015, p. 298). Thus, technocratic
integrated assessment usually involve the combination of climatic and sectoral modelling that
estimates biophysical impacts of climate change, along with economic models that translate
biophysical impacts on macroeconomic indicators, such as prices, demand, supply, and Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).
Several studies have implemented this approach. For example, Cai et al. (2016) analysed the
expected economic impacts of climate change in South Asia by means of climate change
biophysical impact models. Later on, this data is introduced in a computable general equilibrium
model so as to estimate the economic loss in terms of GDP. Their conclusions indicated that
adaptation to climate change is potentially useful to mitigate the expected impacts on the
economy. Krol and Bronstert (2007) analysed the impacts of climate change on water scarcity
in Brazil. By means of climatic, water, and agricultural models, the authors estimated potential
population migration. Paas et al. (2016) applied similar approaches, in this case a bio-economic
farm model, and concluded that this integrated impact assessment allowed for a better
assessment of the potential improvement and variability among farms against climate change.
However, some authors have expressed their concerns about the implementation of technocratic
approaches. Thus, for instance, Hertel and Lobell (2014) state that technocratic Integrated
Assessments models might understate the impacts of extreme temperatures, meanwhile
overstate adaptation capacity of poor countries’ farmers. Nocera et al. (2014) have highlighted
that the problem with technocratic approaches is that «[t]he perspective of the society has not
been taken into account adequately, thus leading to misunderstandings and conflicts between
different perspectives because a real debate has been prevented and the positions tend to be
polarized. This DEAD (
) approach favours decision-makers and postpones, or even omits, a real
discussion with citizens» (Nocera et al., 2014, p. 282).
(
) Refers to Decision, Education, Announcement and Defence. These authors support decisions based on ADD
(Announce, Discuss and Decide).
25
Table 13. Different case studies using integrated assessment for climate change adaptation policy governance.
Source
Case study
Issue
Technical methods
Participatory methods
Andersson et al., 2015
Gothenburg (Sweden)
Adaptation to heatwaves,
floods, and air pollution
Life cycle analysis
Questionnaires, in-depth
interviews, and focus groups
Cai et al., 2016
South Asia
Food production adaptation
to climate change
Climate change impacts
model, food production
models, and computable
general equilibrium model
---
Gain and Giupponi, 2015
Brahmaputra river basin
(Bangladesh)
Adaptation of water
resources systems
Multidimensional dynamic
risk index
Questionnaires and interviews
Krol and Bronstet, 2007
Northeast Brazil
Adaptation to climatic
variability and water
scarcity
Climate, water, agriculture
and socio-economic models
---
Li et al. (2015)
Poyang Lake (China)
Climate change adaptation
for wetland sustainability
Multi-criteria analysis
Training workshops, household
surveys, and progress review
meetings
Melgarejo and Lakes, 2014
Chía (Colombia)
Adaptation to river floods
Multi-criteria analysis
Not mentioned
Paas et al., 2016
The Netherlands
Climate and socio-
economic change on dairy
farms
Bio-economic farm model
---
Rivington et al., 2007
Hartwood Farm (Scotland)
and Agrichiana farm in
Tuscany (Italy)
Climate change impacts on
whole-farm systems
Bio-economic farm model
Workshops
Webb et al., 2013
Charters Towers (Australia)
Adaptation assessment for
livestock industry
Multi-criteria analysis,
forage production and
farming enterprise models
Survey
Source: own elaboration.
26
From this perspective, participatory integrated assessment establishes that stakeholders should
be considered in decision-making processes as powerful problem-solving tools (Banville et al.,
1998), and also as basic requisites to cope with the complexities of the issues involved
(Funtowicz and Ravetz, 1991, 1993). EEA (2016) considers that informing stakeholders is not
enough in adaptation planning, it rather needs deep stakeholders’ engagement (Kuik et al.,
2016), in order to climb further up the ladder to levels of citizen power (Arnstein, 1969).
Therefore, Kalaugher et al. (2013) have proposed to carry out integrated assessment using
Mixed Models Frameworks for a better understanding of adaptation to climate change strategies,
such as the combination of qualitative social research and quantitative biophysical modelling, so
as to be benefited from the advantages of both.
Other authors mention that integrated assessment for adaptation to climate change need to
include participatory processes, in order to look for solutions that reduce vulnerability and
increase resilience not only in the short term, but also in the long-run (Gain and Giupponi, 2015).
Andersson et al. (2015) mentioned that the involvement of public and stakeholders in integrated
assessment approaches for climate change adaptation is a useful tool to propose possible
measures, and assess strategies in order to make decisions implementable.
Gain and Giupponi (2015) have analysed water scarcity risks associated with climate change in
Bangladesh by means of participatory integrated assessment approaches. They have assessed
different adaptation options using a set of multidimensional indicators, as well as the values of
stakeholders for the aggregation. The authors concluded that their participatory integrated
assessment is a good basis for discussing water scarcity risks, as well as to identify indicators
for the assessment.
An analysis developed in China concluded that participatory integrated assessment by means of
multi-criteria analysis are particularly helpful to identify sustainability indicators, and the
development of scenarios and climate adaptation actions to protect wetlands from climate
change (Li et al., 2015). The same results has been found in Colombia for the analysis of river
flood risks (Melgarejo and Lakes, 2014). By way of both participatory techniques and multi-
criteria analysis, the authors proposed a series of alternatives to address the challenge of
temporary shelter when river floods occur. Rivington et al. (2007) conducted an integrated
simulation model along with stakeholders to assess climate change impacts on farming systems.
The authors concluded that each approach reinforce each other, meanwhile the participatory
process was used to define the topic and interpret the results.
Webb et al. (2013) also applied a participatory integrated assessment combining socio-economic
modelling, multi-criteria methods and stakeholders’ engagement techniques to evaluate
adaptation strategies for graziers. The study highlighted that their integrated assessment
enabled the proposal and recommendation of adaptation strategies that are relevant for
stakeholders, being therefore more effective for their implementation. Lastly, stakeholder
engagement and participatory processes in adaptation planning might boost social fairness (EEA,
2016).
This last participatory integrated assessment is the one applied in this case study. Its
implications, development and steps will be presented below.
3.1 The participatory integrated assessment applied
There are three different adaptation approaches (EEA, 2016): (1) the «coping approach», which
consist of coping with immediate impacts of extreme events once they have occurred; (2) the
«incremental approach», which relies on the improvement of existing adaptation measures when
dealing with extreme events; and (3) the «transformational approach», which establishes new
and innovative solutions so as to increase society resilience to changes. In Table 14, the
characteristics of each approaches are given. The cells in «green» refer to the characteristics in
which the approach applied to the Tenerife’s case study tries to rely on.
27
Table 14. Characteristics of different adaptation approaches.
Characteristic
Coping
Incremental
Transformational
Aim
Restore quality of
life and reduce
disaster
Protect quality of life
and prevent disaster
Improve quality of life
under changed external
conditions
Management
Reactive to change
Reactive to change
Planned of change
Time horizon
Short-term
Short to medium-
term
Long-term
Planning
Disaster risk plan
Zoning plan
Sustainability
programme
Participation
Action-focused
stakeholder
involvement
(mostly of
professionals)
Project-focused
involvement of
stakeholders
Broad and integrating
involvement of
stakeholders in planning
Scale/integration
Sectoral and local
Mainly sectoral and
local
Integrated across
sustainability planning
Flexibility
Moderate
Low to medium
High
Risk of
maladaptation
High
Medium
Low
Risk of human and
economic looses
High
Medium
Low
Unsustainability
Possible lock-ins
into unsustainable
pathways
Possible lock-ins into
unsustainable
pathways
Avoid lock-ins into
unsustainable pathways
Uncertainty
Ignored
Partly deal with
uncertainty
Deal with uncertainty
Dealing with
change
Change seen as a
risk
Change seen as a
risk
Change seen as an
opportunity
Use of technologies
Known and trusted
Known and trusted
Innovative solutions
Source: adapted from EEA, 2016.
The «transformational approach» desired to be put into practice in this case study is based on
the methodologies shown in the scheme presented in Fig. 10 (in green). As seen, the scheme
was prepared to be developed in three steps, although this part I will only perform the first and
second stages.
Experts and stakeholders were involved from the very beginning of the process so as to
preliminary frame the issue as well as propose potential adaptation policy actions (step I).
Secondly, in a step II, focus group sessions were implemented in order to deeply discuss and
frame the problematique, not only with experts and decision-makers, but also with local citizens
and lay people. Citizens affected by heatwaves, Saharan dust events and air pollution, as well
as citizens interested in climate change policy were addressed. The last step III still needs to be
28
carried out (see section 5.2). In the next section, and explanation and literature review of each
step (I and II) will be given.
Figure 10. Scheme of the proposed participatory integrated assessment
Source: own elaboration.
3.2 Step I: institutional analysis and participatory techniques
Institutional analysis should be considered as a fact-finding procedure to examine different
structures and social relationships (Corral, 2004), providing a more precise approximation to the
prevailing social and institutional arrangements, assumed as a social context shaped by
institutions that delimit citizens’ rights and responsibilities (Bromley, 1989; Commons, 1961;
Schmid, 1972).
Institutional arrangements have been considered important for the understanding of climate
change adaptation strategies. Thus, severity of heatwaves, in terms of either intensity or
frequency, shape institutional arrangements among interest parts (Eisenack, 2016). Other
studies have detected that even though the synergies between mitigation and adaptation to
climate change are underpinned in legislation, the interpretation of that pieces of legislation does
not consider these synergies, leading to isolated analyses and missed opportunities (Larsen et
al., 2012). It has also been said that small islands tend to be more resilient as a consequence
of dense social networks, such as collective action, reciprocity, and relations of trust, being all
this particularly relevant for climate change adaptation (Petzold and Ratter, 2015). Other studies
detected lack of coordination among institutions leading to a reduced adaptation capacity
(Storbjörk and Hedrén, 2011).
Institutional constraints are also relevant to understand the associated complexities of climate
change adaptation. An analysis conducted in the Netherlands for agriculture adaptation,
concluded that the heterogeity of actors interests on the one hand, and the availability of
resources on the other, were two relevant obstacles to implement adaptation measures
(Mandryk et al., 2015). In effect, local power structures do shape adaptation decision-making.
Næss et al. (2005) detected that when powerful stakeholders coincide in the necessity of
adapting to climate change, adaptation measures are quickly implemented. Furthermore, Næss
et al. also argue that local institutional relations and power structures act like filters of new
currents in adaptation so as to slow down the process of community learning.
29
Theoretical aspects of institutional analysis either to justify the necessity of these approaches
(Ostrom, 1990, 2005) or suggest guidelines (Ingram et al., 1984) or frameworks of analysis
(Imperial, 1999; Koontz, 2006) have been discussed. Institutional analysis is generally carried
out through the employment of diverse social methods and participatory approaches. Thus, in
the present research, a historical review of the local and regional press articles and legislation,
together with an in-depth round of interviews allowed framing the social and political context in
which climate change adaptation in Tenerife is embedded. In this sense, institutional analysis
enables an evolutionary analysis of the role and standpoints of each stakeholder, providing a
map of the relevant stakeholders and their positions. Thus, the information that could be
collected through institutional analysis implemented in Tenerife is presented in Table 15.
Table 15. Potential information that could be collected from experts and stakeholders.
Framing
A definition of the problematique at hand
Existing climate change policies
Stakeholders’ objectives and strategies (e.g. hidden agenda)
Uncertainties
Proposal of
stakeholders
Each stakeholder recommends the inclusion of other key social actors
Preliminary proposal
of policy packages
Potential policy options for adaptation
Obstacles to the implementation of those policy options
Preliminary proposal
of evaluation criteria
Indicators to evaluate policy packages
Source: own elaboration based on questionnaires and in-depth interviews.
The first part developed in step I is the press review. Next section is aimed at presenting this
institutional analysis method.
3.2.1 Press review
It consists of the review of the local press that make reference to the case study. According to
Corral (2004), it is a valuable source of information since it allows for a wider an objective view
of the issue; wider because different opinions are seen; and objective since it helps the analysts
to approach the issue from different perspectives. This social technique has been successfully
applied to different integrated assessment case studies, such as air quality policies (Corral,
2004), water resources management (De Marchi et al., 2000; Paneque et al., 2009), and
sustainable mobility policies (Hernández, 2014; Hernández and Corral, 2016).
For the purpose of this case study, local press analysis has allowed the analysts for the possibility
to access the next sources of information:
Framing. It could be seen that heatwaves and Saharan dust events are a frequent climatic
phenomena in the Canary Islands. Moreover, local experts in climate change were identified,
and indicated that there are relevant policy gaps and a lack of multi-risk policy foresight in
the Island (see section 2.5). Air pollution is not so deeply covered by the media, even though
there are severe problems related to this (as seen in section 2.3). However, some media
press articles have reported increasing mortality and overuse of medical services, as a
consequence of increasing morbidity.
Identification of experts and relevant stakeholders. A certain number of local experts
in climate change and relevant stakeholders have been detected through the local media,
allowing for potential contacts to be considered for the next participatory techniques.
30
Once a preliminary group of stakeholders were identified, an in-depth round of interviews were
conducted.
3.2.2 In-depth interviews to experts and stakeholders
In-depth interviews to experts and stakeholders have been considered appropriate to implement
institutional analyses (De Marchi et al., 2000; Paneque et al., 2009). Initially, experts are
interviewed first (Corral, 2004) in order to have a preliminary list of stakeholders to be engaged
and contacted (Hernández, 2014). Thus, experts are usually «used» as «keys» that «open»
certain «doors» that otherwise cannot be «opened». Then, once all relevant stakeholders were
identified, they were contacted by phone.
By means of open questions, relevant information is collected, such as policy gaps, new
alternative policy options, and evaluation criteria (Corral, 2004; Guimarães et al., 2003; Paneque
et al., 2009). In the present case study, in-depth interviews have been used to frame the issue,
to collect existing reports and scientific publications on the issue, to propose adaptation policy
actions, as well as to map the positions of the stakeholders regarding the issue under analysis.
A part from the in-depth interviews, a questionnaire was also conducted in order to collect more
precise information, as well as to analyse how coherent the stakeholders are when asked the
same questions through different means.
3.3 Step II: focus groups
Morgan (1996, p. 130) defines focus groups «as a research technique that collects data through
group interaction on a topic determined by the researcher». It has also been defined as a social
event (Bloor et al., 2001) or a form of group interviewing (Gibbs, 1997) that pursues the
collection of qualitative information intended to answer research questions (Morgan and Krueger,
1993). It helps the researcher to detect attitudes, feelings, beliefs, experiences, and reactions
that would not be collected by other social research method (Gibbs, 1997; Kitzinger, 1994).
Focus groups have been considered useful tools to learn more about the degree of consensus of
a certain topic, as well as the opinion of the stakeholders involved, and their reasons to answer
certain research questions (Morgan and Krueger, 1993). Focus groups are also useful to collect
information on tensions between opposing parties (Kitzinger, 1994; Morgan and Krueger, 1993).
However, when the parties are too polarised, the focus group might not work adequately
(Hernández, 2014). Similarly, focus groups might be appropriate to shed light on uncertainties
and ambiguities related to the issue at hand (Bloor et al., 2001), being an effective and
economical way to collect relevant information in a short period of time (Gibbs, 1997).
For all these reasons, focus groups have become attractive techniques for citizen participation,
since they are flexible tools that can be used at any step of a decision-making process (Bloor et
al., 2001). Moreover, they have also been considered flexible tools since groups can be sorted,
for example, by age (Guimarães and Funtowicz, 2013). Just to mentioned some examples, focus
groups has been applied to improve governance of water resources (Guimarães et al., 2005;
Paneque et al., 2009), to assess windfarm location (Gamboa and Munda, 2007), and sustainable
mobility policies (Hernández and Corral, 2016). However, it has to be noted that focus groups
are not representative of what the community think about a certain issue (Gamboa and Munda,
2007); it is rather a social research method (Bloor et al., 2001; Morgan and Krueger, 1993).
Focus group sessions should be composed of 6 to 8 participants in order to have an optimum
size (Bloor et al., 2001). Although other authors mention that the group might be between 6
and 15 participants (Kahan, 2001). In the literature, shorter number of participants (five) can
be found (Gamboa and Munda, 2007), as well as larger (eighteen) (Hernández and Corral, 2016).
Too short number of participants could end with limited discussion, whilst too large groups might
be difficult to moderate, might reduce adequate time to express stakeholders’ points of view, or
might give room to several stakeholders to monopolise the discussion (Kahan, 2001).
In the current analysis, four focus group sessions were carried out in order to:
1. Frame the issue at hand, i.e. is climate change perceived as a risk in Tenerife? Is there a lack
of climate change adaptation policies in the island?
31
2. If so, what can be done to increase the island resilience?
The first focus group was organised to gather all experts in climate change, stakeholders
interested in climate change adaptation, and local decision-makers. This first session was rather
technical and followed the Agenda shown in Annex II. The second series of focus groups
consisted of three sessions with local citizens. During each session, invented newspapers
(referring to Tenerife in 2040) were presented to the citizens. These invented newspapers
described an extreme climate change scenario (see Annex III). This exercise was used to carry
out three tasks along with the attendees:
1. How they might be affected by a hypothetical extreme scenario (so as to have a framing or
understanding of local climate change perceptions).
2. What images they have for Tenerife in 2040, assuming that the world has entered in a new
era of climate reality (WMO, 2016).
3. What specific actions might be implemented to adapt Tenerife to that reality?
32
4 Results: implementing steps I and II
The results of the analysis will be presented following the scheme presented in Fig. 10. As seen,
it consists of the two steps.
4.1 Step I. Institutional analysis: framing climate change in Tenerife
4.1.1 Stakeholders participating in the in-depth interviews and a
questionnaire
There were different groups of stakeholders that have participated. The first group is comprised
of experts in climate change (either Universities or Research Centres), decision-makers (from
the Government of the Canary Islands and the Council of Tenerife), trade unions (both national
and local), and environmentalist groups. Then, the proportion of participants by groups can be
seen in Fig. 11.
Figure 11. Scheme of the proposed participatory integrated assessment
Source: own elaboration.
These groups of stakeholders were not the only ones invited to participate. In fact, the number
of invited groups were much larger and plural than those who finally participated. However, for
several reasons, some stakeholders decided not to participate. They were:
An expert who works for the Hospital of Tenerife, specialised in cardiology. He answered the
official letter but declared to have a tight agenda to attend any participatory process.
Municipalities’ organization (FECAM). They answered the invitation letter, but did not respond
neither the questionnaire nor attended the first focus group session.
Employers’ organization (CEOE): They declared not to have a person in charge of
environmental issues. Therefore, preferred not to participate.
State company specialised in technological and renewable energy appliances (ITC). They
could not attend the participatory process since this company is currently having financial
problems.
One local environmental group (Ben-Magec). They did not answer the official invitation letter.
In the next paragraphs a brief presentation of the participants is given:
53%
23%
18% 6%
Academics Institutional experts Trade Unions Environmentalists
33
Academics
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction: the correspondent is an expert in
climate change mitigation and adaptation policies with emphasis in urban planning,
renewable energy resources and climate change initiatives. This expert has collaborated with
the University of La Laguna in the development of policies for increasing resilience in the
Canary Islands. This expert is currently working on projects for resilience in the island of
Lanzarote (the western Island of the Canaries).
Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre: two experts have participated from this research
centre. The first one, Director of the Research Centre, is an expert of the Global Atmospheric
Watch Programme, dust storms, meteorology and climate change in the Canary Islands. The
second expert is, on the other hand, specialised in atmospheric aerosols, Saharan dust and
air quality. The latter is currently working on projects on the effects of ultrafine particles in
human health.
Department of Mechanical Engineering of University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria:
this expert is a senior university professor well known in the Canary Islands for contributing
to sustainable development projects, as well as renewable energy development plans.
Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of University of La Laguna: this
expert is a senior university professor specialised in vector-borne diseases, who is currently
working on different projects to analyse the effects of climate change on the arrival of
potential vector-borne diseases to the Canary Islands.
Department of Geography of University of La Laguna: this expert is a senior university
professor who is skilled in resilience and disaster risk management plans, as well as in local
climatology, Saharan dust events and aerosols.
Department of Physics of University of La Laguna: this expert is a senior university
professor specialised in atmospheric aerosols who is currently working on high-definition
climatic models that might be useful for the specific micro-climates of the Canary Islands.
Department of Ecology of University of La Laguna: this expert is a senior university
professor specialised in ecology, and head of the Island Ecology and Biogeography Research
Group, who is at this time working on forest dynamics, restoration ecology, impacts of forest
fires, and exotic species.
Teide National Park: he is currently researching on global warming issues in the Teide
National Park. This expert is also skilled in conservation biology, climate change, and
management of protected areas.
Institutional experts
Department for Pollution Prevention of the Canary Islands: the correspondent is the
Head of the Department, who is in charge of environmental pollution prevention. This
Department has developed both air quality plans for the Canary Islands and Santa Cruz de
Tenerife.
Department for Public Health of the Canary Islands: the correspondent is the Head of
the Department in charge of risk assessment, who is also in charge of developing the air
quality plans for the Canary Islands and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Department for the Environment of the Council of Tenerife: the correspondent used
to be the Director of the shut down Climate Change Agency of the Canary Islands. This
correspondent was in charge of developing the Climate Change Adaptation Plan.
Department for Civil Protection of the Council of Tenerife: the correspondent is in
charge of this Department, as well as the development of the two existing plans on civil
protection and disaster risk management for Tenerife.
34
Trade Unions
National Trade Union (CCOO): the correspondent is in charge of environmental issues,
and used to be a member of an environmental NGO.
National Trade Union (UGT): the correspondent is in charge of workplace risk prevention,
and has knowledge about working conditions, especially when extreme weather events occur.
Local Trade Union (Intersindical Canaria): the correspondent is in charge of health
issues, and has knowledge about doctors and nurses conditions in the public hospitals of
Tenerife.
Environmental NGO
Local environmentalists (ATAN): this is a local environmental group with a long history
in Tenerife. They have been defending the natural heritage of Tenerife, as well as the
promotion of sustainability projects for the Island.
4.1.2 Stakeholders’ opinions on the issue and the existing policies
In the next two tables, stakeholders’ opinions are given regarding both the issue under analysis
(Table 16), i.e. the effects of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution, and their opinion
on the usefulness of the existing policies (Table 17).
35
Table 16. Stakeholders’ opinions on the issue at hand.
Stakeholder
Opinion
University experts and others
Teide National Park
Temperatures are increasing in general, but in the Teide National Park much more than the global
average. Thus, while global temperatures have increased 0.8 degrees, in the Teide National Park
1.5 degrees warming have been reported. Regarding the issue at hand, several scientific articles
indicate that heatwaves might be increasing in the Canary islands, as well as Saharan dust events
in winter time
Department of Geography (University
of La Laguna)
There are some partial studies indicating that heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution
are impacting on human health. It is however not clear that these hazards are becoming frequent
as a consequence of climate change, although some climatic models are indicating that the intensity
of these hazards are increasing
Department of Physics (University of La
Laguna)
Direct data on the combined effects of these hazards is not available. Neither could I sustain that
heatwaves are becoming frequent, even though it is the general impression. First of all, heatwaves
and Saharan dust events have impacts per se on human health. In fact, the hospitals are negatively
affected as a consequence of increasing peak demand. Local ecosystems are also affected.
Aerobiological threats could also be a consequence of climate change, e.g. potential virus and
bacteria are reaching the Islands as a consequence of changes in wind patterns. These vector-
borne disease might have impacts on human health
Department of Ecology (University of
La Laguna)
First of all, industrial air pollution is very low in the islands, since the Canaries are not industrial
economies. The pollution that comes from the European continent is also low, since it gets purified
across the Atlantic ocean. Therefore, industrial air pollution is not relevant. However, road transport
may be a problem, although the Northern winds export most of the pollution produced by land-
based transport activities. Then, this case is not relevant either. Secondly, Saharan dust events are
not significant either, since they have always been occurring in the past. Besides, this dusty weather
events are beneficial for the ecosystems as a consequence of the natural fertilizer effect produced
by phosphorous additional applications. Therefore, this other hazard is not important either.
Nevertheless, heatwaves are really problematic, as well as the increasing temperatures and
decreasing rainfall. Heatwave hazards might recreate the environmental conditions for the
spreading of exotic species across the islands: exotic species that are about to arrive or have
already arrived but are still marginal in parks and gardens. However, in terms of environmental
hazards, the most important issue is not external (such as global warming), but internal: it comes
36
from our own economic model which is based on an ever increasing infrastructure of any kind, such
as hotels, golf courts, airports, ports, roads, etc.
Institute of Tropical Diseases and
Public Health (University of La Laguna)
Climate change might generate health problems by means of bacteria, strain and viruses arrival. A
study is about to be published on the effects in the Islands of aero-transported bacteria under
Saharan dust events. Increasing bacteria resistance to antibiotics have been detected. Moreover,
increasing temperature boost vectors by means of mosquitos, due to warming climates reduce its
reproduction cycle by a third (i.e. the number of mosquitos can be multiplied by a factor of three).
Therefore, increasing temperature might either lead to, on the one hand, the arrival of new vector-
borne diseases that does not exist in the Islands or, on the other hand, the reproduction of suitable
environments for the spreading of already existing vector-borne diseases, or both. All this may
have a negative impact on human health
Department of Mechanical Engineering
(University of Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria)
It is neither sure that heatwaves are becoming frequent, nor that heatwaves are co-related to air
pollution episodes. However, heatwaves might have negative impacts on several groups of
population, ecosystems, increasing use of energy and power stations
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk
Reduction
Heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution are producing impacts in Tenerife. In terms of
air pollution, Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the most affected Islands. Saharan dust events produce
impacts on population health, especially those with chronic diseases. Among these health effects
we may find itchy throat, itchy eyes, asthma, and breathing problems. In fact, there are people
that cannot leave their homes under Saharan dust events in order to prevent negative health effects
Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre
Expert in climate and meteorology
Heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution produce impacts on population health. What is
currently unknown is if, under a scenario of climate change, those hazards will worsen or not. What
it is however appreciated is that the African continent is warming and Northern Africa is getting
drier. It is also unknown the evolution of key meteorological systems over North Africa (the North
African anticyclone and the Saharan Heat Low) that constitute a triggering factor for hot air and
Saharan dust transport from North Africa to the Canary Islands. In terms of air pollution, Santa
Cruz de Tenerife is clearly affected by three activities, which are the refinery (currently shutdown),
road and ship transport. Then, the mixture of Saharan dust events and local air pollution from these
sources might have serious impacts for several days a year mainly in winter/early spring time when
dust outbreaks impact lower levels of the island.
Expert in air quality
Negative effects of both Saharan dust events and air pollution on population health are generally
assumed. There are several epidemiological studies highlighting these negative effects. However,
heatwaves and Saharan dust events do not necessarily occur simultaneously; in fact, most
37
heatwaves in summertime occur under high stability, low temperature-inversion, high sea surface
temperatures, and air stagnation conditions, sometimes, following Saharan intrusions. The Izaña
Atmospheric Research Centre has been working these last years with a group of cardiologists and
negative effects of ultrafine particles and black carbon on cardiovascular responses have been
reported. Currently, the Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre is working with pulmonologists. Their
analyses came across with some correlations between the exposure to Saharan dust events and
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases
Government of the Canary Islands
Department for Pollution Prevention
The Canary Islands are generally affected by African particle matter, producing negative effects on
population health. It cannot be suggested that either heatwaves or Saharan dust events are
becoming frequent. However, some studies are mentioning that climate change could trigger more
heatwaves and Saharan dust events in the Islands. In terms of local air pollution, it is also known
that ultrafine particles coming from local sources are impacting on human health
Department for Public Health
No opinion
Council of Tenerife
Department for the Environment and
Landscape
It seems that Saharan dust events have been increasing in the last decades, especially in winter
time. According to some studies, air pollution in Santa Cruz de Tenerife might exceed the limits
when local background pollution interact with Saharan dust events, leading to negative effects on
local populations. Currently, as a consequence of the refinery shutdown, air quality has remarkably
improved in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It is not however clear the impacts on the environment, except
forest fires that are closely related to heatwaves. Saharan dust events reduce ecosystems humidity,
increasing wildfire risks. Moreover, some positive impacts have also being reported, such as the
creation of protosoils for some types of vegetation as a consequence of Saharan dust depositions
Department for Civil Protection
Heatwaves are caused by certain meteorological conditions in the Canary Islands that are related
to Saharan meteorological events (such as atmospheric stability, thermal inversion, and low
ventilation). However, heatwaves do not trigger air pollution. Saharan dust events, atmospheric
stability, low ventilation, and thermal inversion are related to air pollution but the intensity is not
known. Air pollution impacts are produced in the metropolitan area, especially in Santa Cruz de
Tenerife, as a consequence of its orography, local wind, high volume of traffic and industrial
activities (the refinery, although it is currently shutdown). All in all, the most relevant impact is
derived from heatwaves and forest fires
38
Trade Unions
National scope (CCOO)
The potential negative effects produced by the combination of heatwaves, Saharan dust events,
and air pollution require a deep scientific analysis. It is however known that these hazards have
been producing impacts on population health as separate hazards. However, their combination need
to be analysed, since climate change might trigger more frequent Saharan dust events
National scope (UGT)
Heatwaves and Saharan dust events are becoming more frequent. However, these climatic hazards
cannot be dealt with at local scale. That is, global problems should have global solutions. Regarding
air pollution, a reduction of around two thirds in the concentration of toxic particles has been noticed
in Santa Cruz de Tenerife after the refinery shutdown, which is one of the oldest refineries in Europe.
This relevant air pollution reduction should make us think that all the efforts at legislative scale
have not been able to reduce air pollution in such levels. When these climatic and non-climatic
events occur, the Hospitals collapse as a consequence of the combination of peak-demand periods
and staff cuts due to the economic crisis. Among the most affected people are children (between 4
and 10 years old) as well as the elderly with previous chronic diseases
Local scope
Generally speaking, the economic model developed in Tenerife is essentially destructive. Public
policy is based on the construction of new infrastructure, especially roadways. Car usage is
comparable to continental big cities, and alternative modes of transport have been constantly
discriminated. Apart from the local pollution and the destructive economic model, when Tenerife
suffers extreme climatic events, such as heatwaves and Saharan dust, people with chronic diseases
are negatively affected (especially by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases), increasing
Emergency demand at Hospitals. Currently, the health system is already under collapse as a
consequence of budget cuts and staff reduction. Therefore, under extreme climatic events, the
situation at Hospitals get worse, even beyond collapse
Environmental NGOs
Island scope
The combination of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution is a very serious problem.
Heatwaves and Saharan dust events are becoming frequent and they both are negatively impacting
on the local ecosystems in terms of changes in its distribution. Regarding impacts on human health,
these hazards are also notorious. It would only be a matter of developing an epidemiological study
to realise how serious this is. Air pollution has improved in Santa Cruz de Tenerife as a consequence
of the refinery shutdown
Source: own elaboration based on in-depth interviews.
39
Table 17. Stakeholders’ opinions on current policies.
Stakeholder
Opinion
University experts and others
Teide National Park (Council of
Tenerife)
Adaptation is not usually considered in the existing plans for climate change. Actually, there are
plans for most of the environmental problems, however, they are not useful at all for adaptation to
climate change. Lot of work in adaptation is still needed. Risk and vulnerability analysis have already
been analysed, but there are not specific action plans
Department of Geography (University
of La Laguna)
Regarding heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution, the current adaptation plan is old-
fashioned and unused. The existing plans for civil protection are focused on floods and extreme
rainfall, and most of them do not consider climate change in a scientific way. More efforts on risk
reduction instead of civil protection is needed
Department of Physics (University of La
Laguna)
The Canary Islands are characterised by specific micro-climates that might bring a sunny day in
one part of the island at the same time it can bring extreme weather events just a few kilometres
away. Therefore, any adaptation plan for the Canary Islands should be based on specific and high-
resolution climatic models. The current adaptation plan has been however based on continental
climatic models. This is not valid
Department of Ecology (University of
La Laguna)
Generally speaking, not much have been done in terms of environmental public policies
Institute of Tropical Diseases and
Public Health (University of La Laguna)
Increasing risks of vector-borne diseases coming from North Africa, by means of Saharan dust and
heatwaves events have not been yet considered in policy-making. Although, some specific
measures have been implemented in ports and airports to prevent the arrival of vector-borne
diseases. Nevertheless, more analysis should be carried out to estimate the impacts of climate
change in the Canary Islands, especially in terms of vector-borne diseases
Department of Mechanical Engineering
(University of Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria)
Generally speaking, there is no reliable planning in the Canary Islands. An integrated sustainable
development plan is still needed
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk
Reduction
Nowadays, there is a dispersion of different plans and sometimes they are unnecessarily
overlapped. There are cases where several plans could have been integrated altogether
40
Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre
Expert in climate and meteorology
Most of the policies should address cities where live most of the population. For example, the effect
of heatwaves in summer could be attenuated, in part, through green urbanization of cities,
implementing smart-plans that include shade trees plantings and awnings placement in order to
reduce pavement and parked vehicles heating. These are the elements that increase significantly
air temperature locally by emitting more infrared radiation when exposed to the sun. Improving
mobility by decisively stimulating public transport and hindering the use of private vehicles would
significantly improve air quality and reduce locally temperature (especially in summer), significantly
improving the quality of life of large cities inhabitants. As far as I know, none of these actions are
being taken.
Expert in air quality
No opinion
Government of the Canary Islands
Department for Pollution Prevention
The existing plans for air quality have been elaborated in our Department. They are not focused on
climate change issues, but on anthropogenic air pollutant emissions. Regarding the existing plan
for climate change adaptation in the Canary Islands, it is not approved yet. Furthermore, the climate
change adaptation plan does not consider specific measures to deal with climatic hazards. Potential
impact assessment of climate change in the Canary Islands is available, but adaptation has not
properly been considered. However, the existing current plans might be considered as a cornerstone
that needs to be developed in the future. In terms of climate change and public health, not much
information is available
Department for Public Health
No opinion
Council of Tenerife
Department for the Environment and
Landscape
All these plans have different scopes. First of all, adaptation plan has been developed with a long-
term point of view, and it was focused on infrastructure adaptation to a changing climate. This plan
is not approved but it should be approved and implemented. Secondly, the air quality plans for the
Canary Islands and for the metropolitan area of Tenerife are intended to reduce air pollution. These
two air quality plans consider Saharan dust events. Furthermore, these two air quality plans should
be updated to improve air quality in the metropolitan area. Lastly, the existing plans for civil
protection should be modified to include the combination of Saharan dust events and air pollution
episodes as climatic and anthropogenic hazards. However, all these plans, if upgraded and
implemented, are more than enough to adapt to climate change
41
Department for Civil Protection
Regarding civil protection, these plans have been coordinated in this Department. The existing
disaster risk management plan for Tenerife does not have any relation to neither climate change
nor adaptation to heatwaves, Saharan dust events, nor air pollution. This plan was intended to
mitigate the expected effects of natural disaster by means of land-use planning. Therefore, this
plan does not cope with any hazard that cannot be mitigated through land-use planning. The same
can be said for the plan for civil protection of the Canary Islands. In fact, in case of heatwaves and
Saharan dust events, this plan is only able to provide suggestion to the population to reduce the
exposure to both climatic events, but nothing more. They are, however, useful for flood protection
and strong winds. Generally speaking, the existing current civil protection plans are neither
sufficient to deal with heat waves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution, nor their potential
interactive effects. All in all, some of these plans contribute few or nothing at all to adapt to climate
change or the hazards analyse here
Trade Unions
National scope (CCOO)
These plans may have a positive impact for adaptation to climate change, as well as to reduce air
pollution. However, research on climate change impacts and its effects need to be boosted
National scope (UGT)
These plans should have been developed in a more participatory way, including key stakeholders.
Furthermore, these plans should be implemented within private companies, in order to increase the
resilience against climatic and non-climatic hazards across all economic sectors
Local scope
Most of these plans exist due to they are mandatory either by the European Union or by the State,
otherwise they would have not been developed. Furthermore, most of them are good plans, but
they are not implement and sometimes even ignored
Environmental NGOs
Island scope
These plans are insufficient since in most cases they do not deal with the cause of the problems.
For example, massive private car use is the cause of air pollution, apart from other sources like the
refinery (currently shutdown) and the aerosols coming from Africa. These plans are only intended
to make people believe that politicians are taking action against certain problems, but nothing
more. However, real specific measures have not been implemented to mitigate climate change
Source: own elaboration based on in-depth interviews.
42
4.1.3 Differences in stakeholders’ opinions
The stakeholders consider that heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution are certainly
impacting on population health and the local environment (as seen in section 2), however only
as isolated hazards. Thus, one of the hypothesis suggested in this case study (i.e. the potential
negative effects of the combination of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution) is not
so clear according to the stakeholders.
For example, one first conflict opinion regards the hypothesis that heatwaves and Saharan dust
are connected climatic events. The representative of the Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public
Health stated that these two climatic events occur together in the Canary Islands, whilst an
expert of the Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre indicated that both events do not necessarily
have to occur simultaneously, but sometimes stable weather conditions after a Saharan dust
event favour heatwaves.
Secondly, another relevant divergent opinion concerns the frequency of heatwaves and Saharan
dust events. Most of the academics (e.g. from the Department of Geography and the Department
of Physics of the University of La Laguna, the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the
University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre), as well
as some institutional experts (from the Department for Pollution Prevention of the Government
of the Canary Islands and the Department for Civil Protection of the Council of Tenerife) declared
that the increasing frequency of heatwaves and Saharan dust events are not totally clear. Whilst,
other institutional experts and stakeholders (the Department for the Environment and Landscape
of the Council of Tenerife, the local environmental NGO, and one national trade union) declared
to believe that these climatic hazards are becoming frequent.
Another remarkable divergent opinion came out regarding two issues: the impact of air pollution
and Saharan dust events on human health. According to the representative of the Department
of Ecology of the University of La Laguna, neither air pollution nor Saharan dust events could be
considered relevant problematic issues in Tenerife. Several academics and institutional experts
disagree with this statement, such as both representative of the Izaña Atmospheric Research
Centre, as well as the representative for the Department for Pollution Prevention of the
Government of the Canary Islands, who considered ultrafine particle and black carbon emissions
a serious problem on the development of cardiovascular diseases in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (this
has also been discussed in section 2.3). Moreover, the representative of the Izaña Atmospheric
Research Centre and the one from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
contemplate that Saharan dust events produce impacts on human health such as chronic
obstructive pulmonary diseases (see also section 2.2). Furthermore, the representative of the
Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre stated that the combination of Saharan dust events and
local air pollution may be a serious episode several days a year in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Another final divergent opinion appeared when the stakeholders were asked to point at the
responsible of the current situation. As seen in Fig. 12, different opinions were elicited: most of
the stakeholders blamed the lack of political will, budget cuts, and lack of public awareness.
However, the sum of lack of political will and poor decision-making amounts 35% of the
responses.
43
Figure 12. Stakeholders’ opinions on the responsibility of the current situation
Source: own elaboration based on the questionnaire.
Apart from the divergences presented above (focused on the negative effects of the climatic and
air pollution episodes), the most relevant different opinions have been revealed in the policy-
making arena (regarding the policies reviewed in section 2.5). Generally speaking, the
assessments given by the stakeholders to the existing policies, as useful policies for adaptation
to climate change, are rather low (Fig. 13).
Figure 13. How good are current policies to adapt Tenerife to climate change?
Source: own elaboration based on the questionnaire.
Political will
23%
Budget cuts
18%
Lack of public
awareness
17%
Poor decision-
making
12%
Lack of citizen
participation
12%
Lack of
scientific
knowledge
6%
Lack of
transparency
6%
Lack of
information
6%
5.5 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.2
3.9 4.3
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Climate Change
Adaptation Plan
for the Canary
Islands
Civil Protection
Plan for the
Canary Islands
Civil Protection
Plan against
Extreme
Weather Events
for the Canary
Islands
Air Quality Plan
for the Canary
Islands
Air Quality Plan
for Santa Cruz
de Tenerife
Disaster Risk
Management
Plan for Tenerife
Civil Protection
Plan for Tenerife
44
There are two core opinions on the existing policies: a) they are enough, and b) they are not
enough to deal with heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution. In the first group of
stakeholder are comprised of the Department for the Environment and Landscape of the Council
of Tenerife (who declared that the existing policies are more than enough if implemented and
upgraded when necessary), the local trade union (who mentioned that the current policies are
good tools, although ignored), and one national trade union UGT (who declared that they are
enough although they should have been developed in a more participatory way).
Meanwhile, the second group is much larger. For example, the correspondent for the Department
of Geography of the University of La Laguna considers the Canary Islands adaptation and civil
protection plans as no longer useful; the same was argued by the expert of the Teide National
Park; the representative for the Department of Physics of the University of La Laguna suggested
that the adaptation plan is not valid since global climatic models were used instead of specific
climatic models for the Canary Islands; the representative for the Institute of Tropical Diseases
and Public Health of University of La Laguna claimed that these policies do not cover all climatic
hazards; the representative for the Department for Pollution Prevention of the Government of
the Canary Islands suggests that they are not enough since not all them have been passed into
law; it has also been said that current policies pursue other goals and scopes rather than
adaptation to climate change (Department for Civil Protection of the Council of Tenerife); other
actor mentioned that they are simply not enough to deal with climate change (local
environmental NGO); lastly, an academic mentioned that these plans are disperse and
unnecessarily overlapped (United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction).
And last but not least, the lack of awareness among the stakeholders on the existing policies
can also be considered relatively high, as seen in Fig. 14. The policies developed by the
Government of the Canary Islands seem to be more well-known than the ones developed by the
Council of Tenerife. Thus, the most well-known policy is the one concerning climate change
adaptation for the Canary Islands: 73% of the stakeholder declared to have knowledge of this
plan. Meanwhile, the Disaster Risk Management Plan for Tenerife is rather unknown (only 47%
of respondents declared to be aware of it). This might indicate the lack of general awareness of
current climate change adaptation-related policies.
Figure 14. Percentage of stakeholders aware of existing policies
Source: own elaboration based on the questionnaire.
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Climate
Change
Adaptation
Plan for the
Canary
Islands
Civil
Protection
Plan for the
Canary
Islands
Civil
Protection
Plan against
Extreme
Weather
Events for
the Canary
Islands
Air Quality
Plan for the
Canary
Islands
Air Quality
Plan for
Santa Cruz
de Tenerife
Disaster Risk
Management
Plan for
Tenerife
Civil
Protection
Plan for
Tenerife
73%
60% 60%
67% 67%
47%
53%
45
4.1.4 Uncertainties detected
According to Funtowicz and Ravetz (1990) there are up to three different sort of uncertainties in
the scientific analyses: technical, methodological, and epistemological. Technical uncertainty
concerns inexactness and can be managed by means of error bars, meanwhile methodological
regards unreliability and can be dealt with confidence intervals. Both of these uncertainties might
in any case be managed through calculus and pure scientific approaches. However,
epistemological uncertainties are rather connected to the border with scientific ignorance; that
is, the uncertainty is beyond any calculus and scientific knowledge. These three kind of
uncertainties have been identified in the institutional analysis implemented here:
Technical uncertainties: refers to either inexistent or unpublished epidemiological follow-
up studies/data on heatwave-related morbidity and mortality. Most of the stakeholders
complain about the lack information on this issue, even though it is known to be collected.
Thus, morbi-mortality could be indirectly estimated, although publishing existing data would
reduce the uncertainties.
Methodological uncertainties: these ones concern the policies reviewed in section 2.5. As
seen, most of the stakeholders who have knowledge of the existing policies declared that
they are neither reliable nor enough to deal with the issue under analysis. Therefore, the
outcomes and proposals of these policies might not be trustworthy.
Epistemological uncertainties: they were pointed out by both academics and institutional
experts in climate change. Three high uncertainties were mentioned:
The potential expected impacts of climate change in the Canary Islands are currently
unknown, since the specific micro-climates of the Islands make global climatic
models, usually applied elsewhere, unreliable; therefore, the direction of climate
change impacts (either positive or negative) is currently not fully known.
As a consequence of the previous uncertainties, the evolution of heatwaves and
Saharan dust events are said to be not fully understood either.
The potential combined negative effects of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air
pollution have also been said to be fuzzy.
4.2 Step II: A focus group to frame climate policy in Tenerife
Eighteen people were invited to attend the focus group. The general profiles of those who
attended the focus group are presented in Fig. 15. As seen, most of them were experts and civil
servants. The latter group, representing the Government of the Canary Islands, the Council of
Tenerife, and the Council of Gran Canaria.
46
Figure 15. Group of stakeholders and their weight in the total number of participants
Source: own elaboration based on the second step.
The participants were split up into two groups, in order to keep the same proportion of profiles
per group as well as a certain degree of plurality. The division has been made as presented
below in Table 18. As seen in Annex II, the focus group had three tasks: the two first tasks were
developed in groups, meanwhile the last task was implemented altogether. Initially, the potential
impacts of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, air pollution and their potential interrelations were
discussed. Secondly, the stakeholders talked about potential actions that could be implemented.
Lastly, an open discussion on the steps forward was carried out.
44%
33%
11% 6% 6%
Experts Civil servants Trade Unions
Scientific reporter Environmentalists
47
Table 18. Participants in the focus group.
Group 1
Group 2
Participant
Institution
Participant
Institution
Expert in resilience
University of La Laguna
Expert in climate modelling
University of La Laguna
Expert in vector-borne diseases
University of La Laguna
Expert in vector-borne diseases
University of La Laguna
Department for Environmental
Health
Government of the Canary
Islands
Expert in ecology
University of La Laguna
Department for the Environment
Council of Tenerife
PhD student in resilience
University of La Laguna
Climate Action Group
Council of Gran Canaria
Deputy Minister’s Office of the
Environment
Government of the Canary
Islands
Expert in air quality
Izaña Atmospheric Research
Centre (1)
Department for Epidemiology
Government of the Canary
Islands
Expert in renewable energy
Research and Development
Agency (1)
Civil Protection Office
Council of Tenerife
Business group
Chamber of Commerce (1)
Trade Union
Local trade union
Trade Union
National trade union (1)
Scientific reporter
Institute of Volcanology
Environmentalists
Local NGO (1)
Expert in climate and
meteorology
Izaña Atmospheric Research
Centre (1)
(1) The groups highlighted in italics could not attend the focus group session.
48
4.2.1 Framing the issue altogether
Each group talked about heatwaves, Saharan dust intrusion, air pollution events, their
potential correlations as well as their impacts on the environment and population health.
Afterwards, a representative of each group presented their conclusions. These conclusions
were the following:
Increasing temperatures
There was a consensus on the idea that the Canary Islands are registering an increase in
the average temperatures as a consequence of climate change. The stakeholders also
agreed that this increasing temperatures are becoming more relevant in mountainous
areas.
What is a heatwave?
The stakeholders complain about the lack of a proper definition of what a heatwave means
in the Canary Islands. They considered this definition as a relevant first step to begin with
policy actions regarding protection against potential increasing heatwave events.
Heatwaves and environmental impacts
According to the stakeholders, the combination of temperatures above 30°C, relative
humidity below 30%, and wind speed above 30 km/h is highly correlated with forest fires.
Furthermore, it was also said that not only forest fires but also heatwaves might produce
changes in the distribution of tree species.
Correlations between heatwaves and Saharan dust intrusion
According to the stakeholders, this correlation cannot be guaranteed. However, it could be
possible that a certain overlapping of both events might occur in summer time. What is
sure, according to the stakeholders, is that Saharan dust intrusion events are correlated
with the arrival of pathogenic to the Islands. It was also said that increasing hospital
admissions as a consequence of the exposure to Saharan dust is well known in the Islands.
Correlations between heatwaves and air pollution
Santa Cruz de Tenerife presents a series of specific characteristics in terms of wind patterns
and orography that usually lead to air pollution concentrations in the city, as a consequence
of both local sources of emissions as well as some continental pollutant arrivals. However,
according to the stakeholders, heatwaves and air pollution are independent uncorrelated
events in Tenerife. Several correlations between air pollution and Saharan dust events
were also mentioned.
One recommendation given by the stakeholders
The stakeholders agreed on the necessity of dividing the island into zones in order to have
a clearer vision of climate risks as well as air pollution concentration and exposure.
4.2.2 Proposals for policy actions and assessment criteria
One of the tasks planned for this focus group session was the proposal of adaptation policy
actions. The discussion among the experts and stakeholders came up with the next list of
proposals consisting of «actions of structure» and «actions of implementation». The first
group of actions (of structure) is comprised of:
49
Action 1. Create an administrative structure to be the backbone of mainstreaming
climate change policy across both public and private institutions: a Climate Change
Agency like this used to exists some years ago in the Canary Islands. It was created
the 24th of April 2009 by means of a regional law. The aim of the Agency was the
promotion, encouragement, orientation and coordination of policies, initiatives and
measures to reach sustainable development as well as the mitigation and adaptation
to climate change. For more details BOC (2009) can be consulted. The 25th of June
2012 the Government of the Canary Islands launched a regional law intended to adopt
measures to reduce public administrations expenditure in order to respond to the
financial crisis. The preface of the law indicated that budget cuts were required so as
to «guarantee public expenditure sustainability» within an economic crisis that obliged
the public administration to fulfil the objectives of budgetary stability (BOC, 2012).
Action 2. Create a permanent technical Forum or Committee on climate change issues:
it should be composed of existing local experts on climate change that may play a role
in climate change governance through the administrative structure mentioned in action
1.
Action 3. Create a permanent social Forum or Committee on climate change issues: it
should be formed by local stakeholders interested in climate chance policy. They may
also play a role in climate change governance through the administrative structure
mentioned in action 1.
Regarding the «actions of implementation», it was proposed the next:
Action 1. Carry out an integrated state-of-the-art regarding climate change issues.
Action 2. Upgrade the Canary Islands’ Climate Change Strategy.
Action 3. Carry out information and communication campaigns on climate change
mitigation and adaptation.
The stakeholders were also asked to propose a list of criteria that might be of use to build
scenarios for resilience. They were the next:
Environmental criteria:
CO2 emissions.
PM10 concentration.
PM2.5 concentration.
SO2 concentration.
NO2 concentration.
Energy consumption.
Water consumption.
Social criteria:
Premature death.
Hospital admission for respiratory diseases.
Hospital admission for cardiovascular diseases.
Energy poverty.
Green area availability.
Economic criteria:
Health costs.
50
Economic activity.
Employment.
Investment costs.
Maintenance costs.
Energy costs.
4.3 Step II: Citizen engagement
Three focus groups were carried out in the island: the first in the Municipality of La Laguna,
the second in the Municipality of La Orotava, and the third in the Municipality of Icod de
los Vinos (see Fig. 16).
La Laguna belongs to the metropolitan area of Tenerife. It is the second most populated
municipality with more than 152,000 inhabitants (ISTAC, 2016d). La Laguna belongs to
the signatories of the Covenant of Mayors (Covenant of Mayors, 2016). 15 people attended
the open call made two months in advance. The educational level of the attendees was
high; in fact, all of them had at least a University degree. Their concern was systemic, that
is, adaptation to climate change was expanded to a problem of island resilience, where
energy, water and food production independency were considered relevant to increase
islanders resilience against external shocks.
The second focus group was carried out in the Municipality of La Orotava. Its population is
around 41,000 inhabitants (ISTAC, 2016d). 18 people attended this session. In this case,
both high educated and lay people shared their opinions regarding climate change
adaptation, although those with high educational level were the majority. Again, the
problem was thought as systemic and the broader view of resilience came out during the
session once again. Increasing energy, water, and food production rates might reduce the
island vulnerability against international or global shocks. However, specific actions were
proposed so as to adapt the island to heatwaves, such as increasing levels of green
infrastructure in urban areas.
The last focus group session took place in Icod de los Vinos, which is a more rural area.
This municipality has almost 23,000 inhabitants. 10 people attended the open call. The
main characteristic of this session were a) most of the attendees were lay people, and b)
the shorter number of attendees was used to go into details regarding concrete adaptation
actions.
Figure 16. Location of focus group sessions
Source: own elaboration based on the second step.
51
4.3.1 Framing the issue altogether
Mitigation is still perceived as a key climate policy
Even though the Canary Islands are responsible for only 0.03% of global greenhouse gases
emissions (
), the attendees of all sessions consider relevant to reduce greenhouse gases
emissions in Tenerife and the Canary Islands. They mentioned that the more emissions are
released to the atmosphere, the more adaptation would be required. Furthermore, they
are also aware of the fact that reducing greenhouse gases emissions would imply ancillary
benefits in terms of air quality, less road congestion and general environmental and health
benefits.
Environmental governance
The attendees have also highlighted the lack of political will when implementing
environmental protection policies. It was mentioned that the Climate Change Agency of
the Canary Island was shutdown in 2012 due to climate change policy in particular and
environmental protection in general are not a local governmental priority.
Water, agriculture and local food production is a key issue
As mentioned above, the scarcity of water, the high reliance on external fossil fuel and the
low local food production were a recurrent concern. The attendees saw the problem much
broader than a mere question of adaptation to climate change; instead, they believe that
it is a matter of increasing the resilience against external shocks. Thus, reducing external
energy and food production dependency is perceived as a key policy issue.
4.3.2 Proposals for policy actions
Even though these three focus groups sessions produced more results in terms of policy
actions (that will be deeply used in step III), a good summary of the policy proposals are
the next:
Action 1. Create an administrative structure to be the backbone of mainstreaming
climate change policy across both public and private institutions: again, this action
coincide with the one proposed by academics and institutional experts in the first focus
group session.
Action 2. Carry out an integrated state-of-the-art regarding climate change issues.
According to the attendees, a diagnosis of the current situation and the expected
climate change impacts for the future is still needed for the island.
Action 3. Improving environmental governance: a more democratic and participatory
environmental decision-making is needed. Citizens interested in climate change policy
should be considered from the beginning of climate governance so as to have a more
robust decision. This action may also coincide with the action 3 (actions of structure)
proposed by academics and experts in the first focus group session.
Action 4. Carry out information and communication campaigns on climate change
mitigation and adaptation. Prevention campaigns are important to implement self-
protection measures when an extreme climatic event may happen in the island.
(
) Global emission data for 2005 from the Canary Islands (ACDSCC, 2008) and the World Resource Institute
(Herzog, 2009) were used to calculate this rate.
52
5 Discussion
5.1 Some policy lessons
Even though this project still need further research (see section 5.2), several policy lessons
might be assumed. As seen in section 4.2.2, a Climate Change Agency used to exist in the
Canary Islands since 2009 until it was shutdown in 2012 for budgetary reasons. According
to what was said during the focus groups, the lack of institutions in charge of climate
change policy prevents the proposal and implementation of policy options and specific
actions to increase climatic resilience. As a consequence, local academics, institutional
experts and other stakeholders, as well as the citizens addressed in the last three focus
group sessions, indicated that the lack of institutions is a key drawback to move forward
in climate policy (see section 4.2 and 4.3). This claim coincides, therefore, with the
recommendations given by the European Environment Agency on what good governance
is about, i.e. to have available stable institutional structures able to work regardless
electoral cycles or political changes (EEA, 2012b). Consequently, it might be reasonable
to create an Agency, or an institutional structure, exclusively in charge of climate
change policy, in order to guarantee coordination among public and private institutions
and mainstreaming climate policy across local administrations.
Secondly, as seen in section 4.1.4 there are uncertainties regarding climate modelling and
extreme weather events prevention. As a consequence of the existing micro-climates in
the Island, global climatic models might not be reliable to predict extreme weather events,
such as heatwaves or Saharan dust events, as well as their trend in the future. It was also
mentioned the need for high-resolution climatic models so as to have proper adaptation
plans (see Table 17). In fact, the current Climate Change Adaptation Plan considers the
need for investment in Research & Development tools to predict what areas of Tenerife
might be more affected by heatwaves, Saharan dust events or air pollution (Martínez,
2010). Consequently, it might be reasonable to dedicate more resources to R&D in
order to have better early warning systems for extreme weather events, in order
to protect local population and the island environment from those extreme events.
Third, as mentioned in section 4.1.2, disaster risk management plan including climate
change risks is needed in Tenerife, since the existing one does not cope with climate
change, but other natural disasters (see section 2.5). It was also mentioned during in-
depth interviews that risk reduction policies should substitute civil protection ones, as well
as the need for specific action plans for adaptation to climate change (see section 4.1.2).
Furthermore, in section 2.5 can be seen that existing policies regarding climate change are
diverse but disperse, i.e. they are split up into regional and local level, whereas several
policies cope with climate change indirectly. As a consequence, it might be reasonable
to develop a climate change risk management plan to island levels, since, as
mentioned throughout the report, micro-climates are the main characteristic of Tenerife.
According to what was discussed during the focus groups sessions developed with local
citizens, most of the measures to protect people and the environment against heatwaves
and Saharan dust events (Tables 9, 10, and 11; see also Gobierno de Canarias, 2006)
were mentioned by local citizens as good self-protection measures against extreme
weather events. Consequently, it might be reasonable to reuse or consider the
measures proposed in the Civil Protection against Extreme Weather Events Plan
as potential adaptation actions.
Although local citizens mentioned that the existing self-protection measures against
extreme weather events are useful, they were neither aware of their existence, nor the
policies where they are written. However, this lack of awareness is not constrained to
citizens and lay people: as declared by the academics, institutional experts and other
stakeholders’ interviewed, a certain percentage of them declared not to be aware of the
existing policies on the issue (see section 4.1.3). Thus, more than half of the stakeholders
interviewed declared not to be aware of the current Disaster Risk Management Plan for
Tenerife; almost half of them declared to be unaware of the existing Civil Protection Plan
53
for Tenerife; where as 40% of them do neither know the existence of the Civil Protection
Plan for the Canary Islands, nor the Civil Protection Plan against Extreme Weather Events
for the Canary Islands. Therefore, it might be reasonable to carry out information
campaigns on the existence of those plans in the meantime further actions are
undertaken.
5.2 The way forward
Step III of this research project will be devoted to build scenarios for resilience in Tenerife.
As seen in section 4.3, local citizens are not only concerned about adaptation to climate
change, but how to be more resilient against external shocks, including extreme weather
events as a consequence of climate change. Thus, those scenarios, still to be built, will
propose paths that Tenerife may walk through from current times to 2040 in order to
increase its resilience. These scenarios would concentrate on energy, agriculture, and food
dependency, as well as other driving forces that might affect Tenerife’s resilience.
54
6 Conclusions
The expected impacts of heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and air pollution in Tenerife has
been reviewed and presented. Potential negative impacts on human health and local
ecosystems can be foreseen, indicating that the Canary Islands and, therefore, Tenerife is
highly vulnerable to climate change (López et al., 2016). Concretely, heatwaves have been
shown to be increasing in frequency and intensity during the last decades in the Canary
Islands.
There are currently a certain number of policies at both the Canary Islands scale and at
Tenerife scale that, either directly or indirectly, might deal with the multiple hazards
analysed here. However, most of these policies have neither been specifically developed
to increase the resilience against heatwaves, Saharan dust events, and climate change,
nor to deal with their potential interactions. Therefore, their possible capability need to be
explored along with other potential adaptation actions.
In this report a participatory integrated assessment has been proposed to approach climate
change risks in small islands. The approach applied here is based on the combination of
three methodologies a) institutional analysis (press review and local law), b) participatory
techniques (in-depth interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups), and c) scenario
building (this last step still to be carried out). These methodologies were used to frame
climate change risks in Tenerife, as well as to propose, along with local stakeholders,
potential paths for a more resilient island, including its adaptation to increasing heatwaves,
Saharan dust events, and air pollution. Furthermore, the stakeholders were also able to
propose environmental, social and economic criteria that could be used for the next step,
i.e. the exploration of scenarios for resilience and adaptation policy options.
One of the findings of the analysis is that there is a lack of institutions in charge of climate
change issues. According to most of the participants, the Islands need an institutional
structure in charge of mainstreaming climate change policy into private and public
institutions. A second finding indicates that an integrated climate change risk management
plan is also needed as well as the investment in high-resolution climatic models. Third, it
has also been highlighted that the existing civil protection plan against extreme weather
events for the Canary Islands includes interesting self-protection measures against
heatwaves and Saharan dust events, as declared by local citizens during the focus group
sessions. However, this plan is rather unknown by local residents. Thus, information
campaigns should be carried out to give more visibility to these existing self-protection
measures.
Step III of this research project will be devoted to build scenarios for resilience in Tenerife.
As will be presented, local citizens are not only concerned about adaptation to climate
change, but also about how to be more resilient against external shocks, including extreme
weather events as a consequence of climate change. Thus, those scenarios, still to be built,
will propose paths that Tenerife may walk through from current times to 2040. These
scenarios would concentrate on energy, agriculture, and food dependency, as well as other
driving forces that might affect Tenerife’s resilience.
55
7 References
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