Sustainable development can reduce vulnerability to climate change

Efforts to cope with the impacts of climate change and attempts to promote sustainable development share common goals and determinants including: access to resources (including information and technology), equity in the distribution of resources, stocks of human and social capital, access to risk-sharing mechanisms and abilities of decision-support mechanisms to cope with uncertainty. Nonetheless, some development activities exacerbate climate-related vulnerabilities (very high confidence).

It is very likely that significant synergies can be exploited in bringing climate change to the development community, and critical development issues to the climate-change community [20.3.3, 20.8.2 and 20.8.3]. Effective communication in assessment, appraisal and action are likely to be important tools both in participatory assessment and governance as well as in identifying productive areas for shared learning initiatives [20.3.3, 20.8.2, 20.8.3]. Despite these synergies, few discussions about promoting sustainability have thus far explicitly included adapting to climate impacts, reducing hazard risks and/or promoting adaptive capacity [20.4, 20.5, 20.8.3]. Discussions about promoting development and improving environmental quality have seldom explicitly included adapting to climate impacts and/or promoting adaptive capacity [20.8.3]. Most of the scholars and practitioners of development who recognise that climate change is a significant issue at local, national, regional and/or global levels focus their attention almost exclusively on mitigation [20.4, 20.8.3].

Synergies between adaptation and mitigation measures will be effective through the middle of this century, but even a combination of aggressive mitigation and significant investment in adaptive capacity could be overwhelmed by the end of the century along a likely development scenario.

Tables TS.3 and TS.4 track major worldwide impacts for major sectors against temperature increases measured from the 1980 to 1999 period. With very high confidence, no temperature threshold associated with any subjective judgment of what might constitute "dangerous" climate change can be guaranteed to be avoided by anything but the most stringent of mitigation interventions.

As illustrated in Figure TS.19, it is likely that global mitigation efforts designed to cap effective greenhouse gas concentrations at, for example, 550 ppm would benefit developing countries significantly through the middle of this century, regardless of whether the climate sensitivity turns out to be high or low, and especially when combined with enhanced adaptation. Developed countries would also likely see significant benefits from an adaptation-mitigation intervention portfolio, especially for high climate sensitivities and in sectors and regions that are already showing signs of being vulnerable. By 2100, climate change will likely produce significant vulnerabilities across the globe even if aggressive mitigation were implemented in combination with significantly enhanced adaptive capacity [20.7.3].

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