Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mitigation and Adaptation....

In another dog who did not bark moment we have not heard much about the report from an IPCC commissioned meeting on "Scientific assessment of the inter-relationships of Mitigation and Adaptation" by Saleemul Huq and Michael Grubb published in August 2003. (Seems to have vanished, but at least for now it remains in the Google cache).

The questions set by the IPCC were

  • What are the main relationships between adaptation and mitigation (at different levels)?
  • What consequences would different (global) mitigation/stabilisation strategies have for
  • necessary (regional) adaptation?
  • To what extent are trade–offs or combined strategies (at national level) possible?
  • What are the impediments (e.g. different time scales, different regional dimensions, etc.)
  • to combined strategies ?
  • How could the issue be structured in AR4?
  • Would there be sufficient literature? (what additional research would be needed?)
  • What expertise would be required for AR4?

Eli is quite happy with this paper as it beats on a drum that he has made his own, that both adaptation and mitigation strategies will be necessary.
3. The unavoidability of combining mitigation and adaptation

Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are already well above pre-industrial levels, and are projected to continue rising rapidly. The SAR and TAR confirm that signs of climate change are already being seen above the noise of natural variations. Most scenarios, even with strong mitigation measures, project that overall GHG concentrations (including non CO2 gases) will rise above a doubling of pre-industrial levels. As indicated in Figure 2, drawn from the TAR, the associated temperature changes will take us significantly into the ‘risk zones’ of impacts on ecosystems, increased weather variability, and impacts particularly on the more vulnerable countries. Since staying below such a doubling would require far quicker and stronger mitigation than envisaged in most scenarios(some studies suggest such doubling is already unavoidable), adaptation will be required irrespective of the mitigation effort.

Conversely, a complete absence of mitigation or related efforts at sustainable development would imply that atmospheric concentrations and temperatures continue increasing towards the high impact and risk zones of Figure 2. The far greater impacts involved would then be much harder to adapt to, with higher risks of events which adaptation could not realistically ameliorate.
Rapid update: The discussion of mitigation and adaptation would greatly benefit from the realization that the distribution of benefits and costs from the global climate change, and adaptation and mitigation strategies is very different
The time characteristics vary greatly and this may be a crucial issue in integrated analysis. The main climate change benefits of mitigation actions taken in the short term (say within a decade) will emerge over decades. Where mitigation goes hand-in-hand with achieving other policy objectives there may also be short-term benefits. On the other hand actions to enhance adaptation to climate change impacts even in the short term will have consequences both in the short as well as medium and long terms (Kram, T., 2003).

- The geographic characteristics are also completely different. Mitigating greenhouse gas emission will have global benefits regardless of where the actions themselves are taken. In case of co-benefits these will mostly be local. On the other hand the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human systems will vary in severity from place to place. They will also vary with respect to the ability of the ecosystem or human community’s ability to cope (i.e. its adaptive capacity) with such adverse impacts. Some (but by no means all) the adverse impacts of climate change may be reduced by taking advance action (i.e. adaptations), but these will always be at a location-specific level. There is thus an inherent disjuncture between analysis of mitigation (local action but with global climatic benefits and local co- benefits) and adaptation (local in terms of both the action and its benefits/consequences).
So, here again we ask, where is the learned and rabid comment upon this report which is the bases of the AR4 dealing with these issues. Reply now, or you will only have yourself to blame for a long series of postings on these issues.

1 comment:

Mark UK said...

Really the problem is that the people causing so much of the problem are either in areas that might get less of an impact to deal with or assume they will have the means to deal with the consequences. Those countries that are more likely to be hit hard by climate change (say Africa...) will have no or little resources to deal with the consequences. And when it comes to the developing world many people like to hide behind the excuse that it "is all caused by corruption and maybe they should do what we did and become great and wealthy..."

In other words, the developed world has not cared much about the developing world and when in some years to come we are busy dealing with the consequences in our home we are unlikely to care a whole lot more about the developing nations...

We'll be holding annual concerts no doubt to feel good about ourselves.