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To Mitigate or to Adapt: Is that the Question? Observations on an Appropriate Response to the Climate Change Challenge to Development Strategies

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  • Zmarak Shalizi
  • Franck Lecocq

Abstract

Climate change is a new and important challenge to development strategies. In light of the current literature a framework for assessing responses to this challenge is provided. The presence of climate change makes it necessary to at least review development strategies--even in apparently nonclimate-sensitive and nonpolluting sectors. There is a need for an integrated portfolio of actions ranging from avoiding emissions (mitigation) to coping with impacts (adaptation) and to consciously accepting residual damages. Proactive (ex ante) adaptation is critical, but subject to risks of regrets when the magnitude or location of damages is uncertain. Uncertainty on location favors nonsite-specific actions, or reactive (ex post) adaptation. However, some irreversible losses cannot be compensated for. Thus, mitigation might be in many cases the cheapest long-term solution to climate change problems and the most important to avoid thresholds that may trigger truly catastrophic consequences. To limit the risks that budget constraints prevent developing countries from financing reactive adaptation--especially since climate shocks might erode the fiscal base--"rainy-day funds" may have to be developed within countries and at the global level for transfer purposes. Finally, more research is required on the impacts of climate change, on modeling the interrelations between mitigation and adaptation, and on operationalizing the framework. Copyright 2010, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 25 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (August)
Pages: 295-321

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:25:y:2010:i:2:p:295-321

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Cited by:
  1. Jonatan Pinkse & Ans Kolk, 2012. "Addressing the climate change sustainable development nexus: the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-00707337, HAL.
  2. Franck Lecocq & Jean-Charles Hourcade, 2012. "Unspoken ethical issues in the climate affair: Insights from a theoretical analysis of negotiation mandates," Working Papers 49105, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France.
  3. Aart de Zeeuw & Amos Zemel, 2012. "Regime Shifts and Uncertainty in Pollution Control," CESifo Working Paper Series 3697, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Brechet, Thierry & HRITONENKO, Natali & YATSENKO, Yuri, 2010. "Adaptation and mitigation in long-term climate policies," CORE Discussion Papers 2010065, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

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