IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability

18.5 Inter-relationships in a climate policy portfolio

A wide range of inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation have been identified through examples in the published literature. Taylor et al. (2006) present an inventory of published examples including full citations (available in an abbreviated form on the CD-ROM accompanying this volume as supplementary material to support the review of this chapter). The many examples have been clustered according to the type of linkage and ordered according to the entry point and scale of decision-making (Figure 18.2). Table 18.1 lists all of the types of linkages documented. The categories are illustrative; some cases occur in more than one category, or could shift over time or in different situations. For example, watershed planning is often related to managing climatic risks in using water. But if hydroelectricity is an option, then the entry point may be mitigation, and both adaptation and mitigation might be evaluated at the same time or even with explicit trade-offs.

Figure 18.2

Figure 18.2. Typology of inter-relationships between climate change adaptation and mitigation. MEA = Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Table 18.1. Types of inter-relationships between climate change adaptation and mitigation.

A→M M→A ∫(A,M) A∩M 
Individual responses to climatic hazards that increase or decrease greenhouse-gas emissions More efficient energy use and renewable sources that promote local development Public-sector funding and budgetary processes that allocate funding to both A and M Perception of impacts (and limits to A) motivates M; perception of limits to M motivates A 
More efficient community use of water, land, forests CDM projects on land use or energy use that support local economies and livelihoods Strategic planning related to development pathways (scenarios) to mainstream climate responses Watershed planning: allocation of water between hydroelectricity and consumption 
Natural resources managed to sustain livelihoods Urban planning, building design and recycling with benefits for both A and M Allocation of funding and setting the agenda for UNFCCC negotiations and funds Cultural values that promote both A and M, such as sacred forests (e.g., Satoyama in Japan) 
Tourism use of energy and water, with outcomes for incomes and emissions Health benefits of mitigation through reduced environmental stresses Stabilisation targets that include limits to adaptation (e.g., tolerable windows) Management of socio-ecological systems to promote resilience 
Resources used in adaptation, such as large-scale infrastructure, increase emissions Afforestation, leading to depleted water resources and other ecosystem effects, with consequences for livelihoods Analysis of global costs and benefits of M to inform targets Ecological impacts, with some human element, drive further releases of greenhouse gases 
 M schemes that transfer finance to developing countries (such as a per capita allocation) stimulate investment that may benefit A Large scale M (e.g., geo-engineering) with effects on impacts and A Legal implications of liability for climate impacts motivates M 
 Effect of mitigation, e.g., through carbon taxes and energy prices, on resource use   National capacity-building increases ability to respond to both A and M 
     Insurance spreads risk and assists with A; managing insurance funds has implications for M 
     Trade liberalisation with economic benefits (A) increases transport costs (M
     Monitoring systems and reporting requirements that cover indicators of both A and M 
     Management of multilateral environmental agreements benefits both A and M 

In Figure 18.2 and Table 18.1, many of the examples are motivated by either mitigation or adaptation, with largely unintended consequences for the other (e.g., Tol and Dowlatabadi, 2001). Where adaptation leads to effects on mitigation, the linkage is labelled AM. The categories of linkages include:

individual responses to climatic hazard that increase or decrease greenhouse-gas emissions. For example, a common adaptation to heatwaves is to install air-conditioning, which increases electricity demand with consequences for mitigation when the electricity is produced from fossil fuels;

  • more efficient community use of water, land, forests and other natural resources, improving access and reducing emissions (e.g., conservation of water in urban areas reduces energy used in moving and heating water);
  • natural resources managed to sustain livelihoods;
  • tourism use of energy and water, with outcomes for incomes and emissions (generally to increase both welfare and emissions);
  • resources used in adaptation, such as in large-scale infrastructure, increases emissions.

Similarly, mitigation actions might affect the capacity to adapt or actual adaptation actions (MA). These categories include:

  • more efficient energy use and renewable sources that promote local development;
  • CDM projects on land use or energy use that support local economies and livelihoods, perhaps by placing a value on their management of natural resources;
  • urban planning, building design and recycling with benefits for both adaptation and mitigation;
  • health benefits of mitigation through reduced environmental stresses;
  • afforestation, leading to depleted water resources and other ecosystem effects, with consequences for livelihoods;
  • mitigation actions that transfer finance to developing countries (such as per capita allocations) that stimulate investment with benefits for adaptation;
  • effects of mitigation, e.g., through carbon taxes and energy prices, on resource use (generally to reduce use) that affect adaptation, for example by reducing the use of tractors in semi-subsistence farming due to higher costs of fuels.

As noted in Section 18.4.3, the effect of increased emissions due to adaptation is likely to be small in most sectors in relation to the baseline projections of energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions. Land and water management may be affected by mitigation actions, but in most sectors the effects of mitigation on adaptation are likely to be small. At least some analysts are concerned with the explicit trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation (labelled adaptation or mitigation, ∫(A,M)). Categories include:

  • public-sector funding and budgetary processes that allocate funding to both adaptation and mitigation;
  • strategic planning related to development pathways, for example scenario and visioning exercises with urban governments that include climate responses (mainstreaming responses in sectoral and regional planning);
  • allocation of funding and setting the agenda for UNFCCC negotiations and funds (e.g., the Special Climate Change Fund);
  • stabilisation targets that include limits to adaptation (e.g., tolerable windows);
  • analysis of global costs and benefits of mitigation to inform targets for greenhouse-gas concentrations (see Section 18.4.2);
  • large-scale mitigation (e.g., geo-engineering) with effects on impacts and adaptation.

Some actions result from the simultaneous consideration of adaptation and mitigation. These concerns may be raised within the same decision framework or sequential process but without explicitly considering their trade-offs or synergies (labelled adaptation and mitigation, A∩M). Examples include:

  • perception of impacts and the limits to adaptation (see Chapter 17) motivates action on mitigation, conversely the perception of limits to mitigation reinforces urgent action on adaptation;
  • watershed planning where water is allocated between hydroelectricity and consumption without explicitly addressing mitigation and adaptation;
  • cultural values that promote both adaptation and mitigation, such as sacred forests (e.g., Satoyama in Japan);
  • management of socio-ecological systems to promote resilience;
  • ecological impacts, with some human element, drive further releases of greenhouse gases,
  • legal implications of liability for climate impacts motivates mitigation;
  • national capacity-building increases the ability to respond to both adaptation and mitigation (such as through the National Capacity-Building Self Assessment);
  • insurance spreads risk and assists with adaptation, while managing insurance funds has implications for mitigation;
  • trade liberalisation may have economic benefits (increasing adaptive capacity) but also increases emissions from transport;
  • monitoring systems and reporting requirements may cover indicators of both adaptation and mitigation;
  • management of multilateral environmental agreements may benefit both adaptation and mitigation.

Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation will vary with the type of policy decisions being made, for example on different scales from local project analysis to global analysis. As discussed in Section 18.4.3, there will be clear MA linkages in many mitigation projects, for example ensuring that adaptation is built into the project design (e.g., considering and adjusting for water availability for longer-term hydroelectric renewable or bioenergy/biofuels projects). Similarly, in the design or appraisal of adaptation projects, AM, the consideration of mitigation options can be brought in, for example in considering reduced energy use in project design. These linkages might be considered through an extension of project risk analysis as part of the appraisal process, but can also be included in cost-benefit analysis explicitly in an economic appraisal framework.

At the policy level (e.g., portfolios, funding, strategies), the same MA and AM issues apply, but the wider potential for cross-sectoral linkages makes simultaneous consideration of adaptation and mitigation, A∩M, more important. For example, the shift up to a major (country level) energy policy towards mitigation might need to assess demand changes from adaptation across a wide range of sectors. There may be a need to consider some explicit trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation, ∫(A,M).

At the global level, the potential for ∫(A,M) becomes possible within a theoretical framework (see Section 18.4). There has been discussion of the potential for adaptation and mitigation as substitutes within narrow economic analysis (cost-benefit frameworks), and some studies have tried to assess the optimal policy balance of mitigation and adaptation using CBA based on IAMs. However, recent reviews (e.g., Watkiss et al., 2005) have shown that policy-makers are uncomfortable with the use of CBA in longer-term climate policy, because of the range of uncertainty over the relevant economic parameters of marginal mitigation costs and marginal social costs and damages avoided, but also because of the significant lack of data on the costs of adaptation. Instead, wider frameworks are considered to be more informative, using multiple aspects and risk-based approaches, for example iterative decision-making and tolerable windows (see also the risk matrix in Chapter 20). Stern (2007) explicitly adopted a risk-based framework appropriate for guiding policy from analysing the marginal costs and benefits at the project level to determination of public policy that affects future economic paths. He recognised that adaptation plays an important role, but not in an explicit trade-off against mitigation, in long-term policy.