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Mitigation versus adaptation: the political economy of competition between climate policy strategies and the consequences for developing countries

So far, the dominant paradigm in international climate policy has been mitigation, while adaptation has been a low-key issue. However, with LDCs starting to push for adaptation side payments it has recently gained importance. The allocation of funds and the definition of adaptation activities are currently being discussed. The most outstanding difference between mitigation and adaptation is that mitigation activities contribute to a global public good whereas most forms of adaptation are club goods. Technical adaptation such as building seawalls can be distinguished from societal adaptation, e.g. different land-use patterns. Generally, there is a trade-off between mitigation and adaptation strategies, as resources for climate policy, are limited. The choice between mitigation and adaptation strategies depends on the decision-making context. While mitigation will be preferred by societies with a strong climate protection industry and low mitigation costs, the voters' quest for adaptation is linked to the occurrence of extreme whether events. The policy choice in industrialised countries feeds back on the situation in developing countries. Adaptation in industrialised countries enhances the adaptation need in developing countries through declining mitigation activities. Unless this adaptation is financed by industrialised countries, developing countries will be worse off than in a mitigation-only strategy.

http://www.hwwa.de/Projekte/Forsch_Schwerpunkte/FS/Klimapo litik/PDFDokumente/Michaelowa%20(2001 l).pdf

Michaelowa, A., 2001: Mitigation versus adaptation: the political economy of competition between climate policy strategies and the consequences for developing countries. HWWA Discussion Paper 153, Hamburg Institute of International Economics, Hamburg, 34 pp.

Anticipating long-term climate change

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