Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report

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6.13 Adaptation is a necessary strategy at all scales to complement climate change mitigation efforts. Together they can contribute to sustainable development objectives.

6.14 Adaptation can complement mitigation in a cost-effective strategy to reduce climate change risks. Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, even stabilization of their concentrations in the atmosphere at a low level, will neither altogether prevent climate change or sea-level rise nor altogether prevent their impacts. Many reactive adaptations will occur in response to the changing climate and rising seas and some have already occurred. In addition, the development of planned adaptation strategies to address risks and utilize opportunities can complement mitigation actions to lessen climate change impacts. However, adaptation would entail costs and cannot prevent all damages. Adaptation implemented in combination with mitigation can be a more cost-effective approach to reducing the impacts of climate change than either applied alone. The potential for adaptation to substantially reduce many of the adverse impacts of climate change was assessed in Question 3. Because there are overlapping ranges of global temperature increases associated with the various stabilization levels (see Figure 6-1c), many adaptation options will be appropriate for a range of stabilization levels. Improved knowledge will narrow the uncertainties associated with particular stabilization levels and identification of appropriate adaptation strategies.

WGII TAR Sections, 18.3.5, & 18.4.1
6.15 Adaptation costs and challenges can be lessened by mitigation of climate change. Greenhouse gas emission reductions would reduce the magnitude and rate of changes to be adapted to, possibly including changes in the frequencies and intensities of extreme events. The smaller changes to which systems would be exposed, and slower pace at which stresses would increase, would allow more time for adaptation and lessen the degree to which current practices for coping with climate variability and extremes might need to be modified (see Question 3). More aggressive mitigation efforts will therefore reduce adaptation costs to attain a specified level of effectiveness.

WGII TAR Sections 18.2.2, 18.3, & 18.8
6.16 Mitigation and adaptation actions can, if appropriately designed, advance sustainable development objectives. As described in Question 3, risks associated with climate change have the potential to undermine progress toward sustainable development (e.g., damages from extreme climate events, water shortage and degraded water quality, good supply disruptions and hunger, land degradation, and diminished human health). Byreducing these risks, climate change mitigation and adaptation policies can improve the prospects for sustainable development.12

WGII TAR Section 18.6.1, & WGIII TAR Sections 2.2.3 & 10.3.2
6.17 The impact of climate change is projected to have different effects within and between countries. The challenge of addressing climate change raises an important issue of equity. Climate change pressures can exacerbate inequities between developing and developed countries; lessening these pressures through mitigation and enhancement of adaptive capacity can reduce these inequities. People in developing countries, particularly the poorest people in these countries, are considered to be more vulnerable to climate change than people in developed countries (see Question 3). Reducing the rate of warming and sea-level rise and increasing the capacity to adapt to climate change would benefit all countries, particularly developing countries

WGII TAR Sections 18.5.3 & 19.4
6.18 Reducing and slowing climate change can also promote inter-generational equity. Emissions of the present generation will affect many future generations because of inertia in the atmosphere-ocean-climate system and the long-lived and sometimes irreversible effects of climate change on the environment. Future generations are generally anticipated to be wealthier, better educated and informed, and technologically more advanced than the present generation and consequently better able to adapt in many respects. But the changes set in motion in coming decades will accumulate and some could reach magnitudes that would severely test the abilities of many societies to cope. For irreversible impacts, such as the extinction of species or loss of unique ecosystems, there are no adaptation responses that can fully remedy the losses. Mitigating climate change would lessen the risks to future generations from the actions of the present generation. WGII TAR Sections 1.2 & 18.5.2, & WGIII TAR Section 10.4.3

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