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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Zmarak Shalizi & Franck Lecocq, 2010. "To Mitigate or to Adapt: Is that the Question? Observations on an Appropriate Response to the Climate Change Challenge to Development Strategies," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 295-321, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:25:y:2010:i:2:p:295-321
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    Cited by:

    1. Yacov Tsur & Cees Withagen, 2013. "Preparing for catastrophic climate change," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 225-239, November.
    2. de Zeeuw, Aart & Zemel, Amos, 2012. "Regime shifts and uncertainty in pollution control," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 939-950.
    3. Thierry Bréchet & Natali Hritonenko & Yuri Yatsenko, 2013. "Adaptation and Mitigation in Long-term Climate Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(2), pages 217-243, June.
    4. Anne T. Kuriakose & Rasmus Heltberg & William Wiseman & Cecilia Costella & Rachel Cipryk & Sabine Cornelius, 2013. "Climate-Responsive Social Protection," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 31, pages 19-34, November.
    5. Strand, Jon, 2014. "Implications of a lowered damage trajectory for mitigation in a continuous-time stochastic model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 43-49.
    6. Franck Lecocq & Jean-Charles Hourcade, 2012. "Unspoken ethical issues in the climate affair: Insights from a theoretical analysis of negotiation mandates," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 49(2), pages 445-471, February.
    7. García-León, David, 2016. "Adapting to Climate Change: an Analysis under Uncertainty," EIA: Climate Change: Economic Impacts and Adaptation 232216, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    8. Aurélie Méjean & Franck Lecocq & Yacob Mulugetta, 2015. "Equity, burden sharing and development pathways: reframing international climate negotiations," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 387-402, November.
    9. 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).
    10. Sarah Harper, 2013. "Population–Environment Interactions: European Migration, Population Composition and Climate Change," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(4), pages 525-541, August.
    11. Nkegbe, Paul Kwame & Kuunibe, Naasegnibe, 2014. "Climate variability and household welfare in northern Ghana," WIDER Working Paper Series 027, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    12. 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.

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