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Adaptation Can Help Mitigation: An Integrated Approach to Post-2012 Climate Policy


  • Bosello, Francesco
  • Carraro, Carlo
  • De Cian, Enrica


The latest round of international negotiations in Copenhagen led to a set of commitments on emission reduction which are unlikely to stabilise global warming below or around 2°C. As a consequence, in the absence of additional ambitious policy measures, adaptation will be needed to address climate related damages. What is the role of adaptation in this setting? How is it optimally allocated across regions and time? To address these questions, this paper analyses the optimal mix of adaptation and mitigation expenditures in a cost-effective setting in which countries cooperate to achieve a long-term stabilisation target (550 CO2-eq). It uses an Integrated Assessment Model (AD-WITCH) that describes the relationships between different adaptation modes (reactive and anticipatory), mitigation, and capacity building to analyse the optimal portfolio of adaptation measures. Results show the optimal intertemporal distribution of climate policy measures is characterised by early investments in mitigation followed by large adaptation expenditures a few decades later. Hence, the possibility to adapt does not justify postponing mitigation, although it reduces its costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Bosello, Francesco & Carraro, Carlo & De Cian, Enrica, 2012. "Adaptation Can Help Mitigation: An Integrated Approach to Post-2012 Climate Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 8909, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8909

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manne, Alan & Mendelsohn, Robert & Richels, Richard, 1995. "MERGE : A model for evaluating regional and global effects of GHG reduction policies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 17-34, January.
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    7. Kelly de Bruin & Rob Dellink & Shardul Agrawala, 2009. "Economic Aspects of Adaptation to Climate Change: Integrated Assessment Modelling of Adaptation Costs and Benefits," OECD Environment Working Papers 6, OECD Publishing.
    8. Valentina Bosetti & Carlo Carraro & Massimo Tavoni, 2009. "Climate Policy after 2012," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 55(2), pages 235-254, June.
    9. Martin L. Weitzman, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 703-724, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Annemiek K. Admiraal & Andries F. Hof & Michel G. J. Elzen & Detlef P. Vuuren, 2016. "Costs and benefits of differences in the timing of greenhouse gas emission reductions," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 21(8), pages 1165-1179, December.
    2. Pam Berry & Sally Brown & Minpeng Chen & Areti Kontogianni & Olwen Rowlands & Gillian Simpson & Michalis Skourtos, 2015. "Cross-sectoral interactions of adaptation and mitigation measures," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 381-393, February.
    3. Bosello, Francesco & De Cian, Enrica, 2014. "Climate change, sea level rise, and coastal disasters. A review of modeling practices," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 593-605.
    4. Karen Fisher-Vanden & Ian Sue Wing & Elisa Lanzi & David Popp, 2013. "Modeling climate change feedbacks and adaptation responses: recent approaches and shortcomings," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 117(3), pages 481-495, April.

    More about this item


    adaptation; climate change impacts; integrated assessment model; mitigation;

    JEL classification:

    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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