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Climate Policy and the Optimal Balance between Mitigation, Adaptation and Unavoided Damage


  • Carlo Carraro

    () (Department of Economics, University Of Venice C� Foscari)

  • Francesco Bosello

    () (University of Milan, Fondazione Enrico Mattei, and CMCC)

  • Enrica De Cian

    () (University of Venice, Fondazione Enrico Mattei)


It has become commonly accepted that a successful climate strategy should compound mitigation and adaptation. The accurate combination between adaptation and mitigation that can best address climate change is still an open question. This paper proposes a framework that integrates mitigation, adaptation, and climate change residual damages into an optimisation model. This set-up is used to provide some insights on the welfare maximising resource allocation between mitigation and adaptation, on their optimal timing, and on their marginal contribution to reducing vulnerability to climate change. The optimal mix between three different adaptation modes (reactive adaptation, anticipatory adaptation, and investment in innovation for adaptation purposes) within the adaptation bundle is also identified. Results suggest that the joint implementation of mitigation and adaptation is welfare improving. Mitigation should start immediately, whereas adaptation somehow later. It is also shown that in a world where the probability of climate-related catastrophic events is small and where decision makers have a high discount rate, adaptation is unambiguously the preferred option. Adaptation needs, both in developed and developing countries, will be massive, especially during the second half of the century. Most of the adaptation burden will be on developing countries. International cooperation is thus required to equally distribute the cost of adaptation.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Carraro & Francesco Bosello & Enrica De Cian, 2010. "Climate Policy and the Optimal Balance between Mitigation, Adaptation and Unavoided Damage," Working Papers 2010_09, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
  • Handle: RePEc:ven:wpaper:2010_09

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Valentina Bosetti, Carlo Carraro, Marzio Galeotti, Emanuele Massetti, Massimo Tavoni, 2006. "A World induced Technical Change Hybrid Model," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Special I), pages 13-38.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bréchet, Thierry & Hritonenko, Natali & Yatsenko, Yuri, 2016. "Domestic environmental policy and international cooperation for global commons," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 183-205.
    2. Dobes Leo & Jotzo Frank & Stern David I., 2014. "The Economics of Global Climate Change: A Historical Literature Review," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 65(3), pages 281-320, December.
    3. Schenker, Oliver & Stephan, Gunter, 2012. "Terms-of-trade and the funding of adaptation to climate change and variability: An empirical analysis," ZEW Discussion Papers 12-056, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Habla, Wolfgang & Roeder, Kerstin, 2017. "The political economy of mitigation and adaptation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 239-257.
    5. Schenker, Oliver & Stephan, Gunter, 2014. "Give and take: How the funding of adaptation to climate change can improve the donor's terms-of-trade," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 44-55.
    6. Carlo Carraro & Emanuele Massetti, 2012. "Beyond Copenhagen: a realistic climate policy in a fragmented world," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 523-542, February.
    7. Halkos, George, 2014. "The Economics of Climate Change Policy: Critical review and future policy directions," MPRA Paper 56841, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. 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.
    9. Fankhauser, Samuel & Sahni, Aditi & Savvas, Annie & Ward, John, 2016. "Where are the gaps in climate finance?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 64179, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. David García-León, 2016. "Adapting to Climate Change: an Analysis under Uncertainty," Working Papers 2016.10, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    11. Yuri Yatsenko, 2015. "Models and Games with Adaptation and Mitigation," CEEES Paper Series CE3S-01/15, European University at St. Petersburg, Department of Economics.
    12. Heuson, Clemens & Gawel, Erik & Gebhardt, Oliver & Hansjürgens, Bernd & Lehmann, Paul & Meyer, Volker & Schwarze, Reimund, 2012. "Fundamental questions on the economics of climate adaptation: Outlines of a new research programme," UFZ Reports 05/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).
    13. Anil Markandya, 2017. "State of Knowledge on Climate Change, Water, and Economics," World Bank Other Operational Studies 26491, The World Bank.
    14. 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.
    15. YATSENKO, Yuri & HRITONENKO, Natali & BRECHET, Thierry, 2014. "Modeling of environmental adaptation versus pollution mitigation," CORE Discussion Papers 2014006, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    16. Sam Fankhauser, 2016. "Adaptation to climate change," GRI Working Papers 255, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    17. Heuson, Clemens & Gawel, Erik & Gebhardt, Oliver & Hansjürgens, Bernd & Lehmann, Paul & Meyer, Volker & Schwarze, Reimund, 2012. "Ökonomische Grundfragen der Klimaanpassung: Umrisse eines neuen Forschungsprogramms," UFZ Reports 02/2012, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ).
    18. repec:spr:masfgc:v:22:y:2017:i:8:d:10.1007_s11027-016-9718-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. HRITONENKO, Natali & YATSENKO, Yuri, 2011. "Sustainable growth and modernization under environmental hazard and adaptation," CORE Discussion Papers 2011025, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    20. Vale, Petterson Molina, 2016. "The changing climate of climate change economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 12-19.
    21. Hertel, Thomas W. & Lobell, David B., 2014. "Agricultural adaptation to climate change in rich and poor countries: Current modeling practice and potential for empirical contributions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 562-575.

    More about this item


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

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy

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