Linking Mitigation and Adaptation

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Although this chapter has focused on responding to the impacts of climate change, mitigation is another response strategy that is both necessary and urgent to ensure long-term resilience. As Tom Wilbanks and colleagues note, "if mitigation can be successful in keeping impacts at a lower level, adaptation can be successful in coping with more of the resulting impacts". Until recently, mitigation and adaptation have been considered separately in climate change science and policy. Mitigation has been treated as an issue for

Building Resilience industrial countries, which carry the greatest responsibility for climate change, while adaptation is seen as a priority for developing countries, where the capacity to mitigate is low and vulnerability is high.47

But in order to maximize global resilience against climate change, any post-Kyoto arrangements will have to engage developing countries in the mitigation agenda. And mitigation strategies that offset carbon in developing countries through carbon trading mechanisms such as the CDM and the voluntary carbon market have the potential to bring sustainable development benefits, which can contribute to climate change adaptation and resilience. Taking this further, attention has recently started to focus on exploring synergies between mitigation and adaptation, to see if they can be achieved together, contributing to both short-term local and long-term global resilience.48

Linking mitigation and adaptation at the national and sectoral level is problematic, because the needed actions and policies involve different sectors. Mitigation actions tend to focus on transport, industry, and energy, while adaptation decisionmakers usually focus on the most immediately vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, land use, forestry, and coastal zone management. There is some potential for overlap at the sectoral level, however: for example, adaptation policies on agriculture, land use, and forestry have implications for carbon dioxide sequestration and avoided methane emissions.49

Achieving synergies between mitigation and adaptation strategies is most fruitful at the project level, where the activities are linked in very specific ways. In Dhaka, for instance, a CDM mitigation project uses organic waste to produce compost. This reduces methane emissions by diverting organic waste from landfills (where anaerobic processes occur that generate higher lev els of methane) to a composting plant (where aerobic processes occur).50

This mitigation project has clear potential for contributing to climate change resilience in rural areas. The impacts of climate change will include agroecosystem stresses in drought-prone areas in Bangladesh. Thus, enhancing soil organic matter content through organic manure to increase the moisture retention and fertility of soil both reduces the vulnerability to drought and increases the carbon sequestration rates of crops. Linking mitigation and adaptation in this way contributes to both long-term and short-term ecological and social resilience. The composting projects contribute to global resilience by reducing GHG emissions directly through preventing the generation of methane and indirectly through contributing to the carbon sequestration capabilities of crops. They also build local resilience through soil improvement in drought-prone areas, as poverty is exacerbated when climate change reduces the flows of ecosystem services.51

An integrated approach could therefore go some way toward bridging the gap between the development and adaptation priorities of developing countries and the need for mitigation at the global level. In addition, this will increase the relevance of mitigation for the most vulnerable developing countries, moving beyond the perception of mitigation as only an issue for industrial nations and helping to engage even the poorest developing countries in global mitigation efforts. Building resilience requires climate change response measures that bring together integrated climate change, development, and resource management concepts to build adaptive capacity. Linking mitigation at the project level is one way of achieving such an integrated approach, to build local and global resilience now and for the future.52

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