International mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change policy: An integrated assessment approach
What is the best strategy to reduce climate change (mitigation)? And what are the interactions between mitigation and adjusting to climate change (adaptation)? To answer these questions an integrated assessment model, which describes both the causes and consequences of climate change, was used. From this, it turns out that adaptation and mitigation can not replace each other. Adaptation can effectively reduce the impact of climate change in the short term but is much less effective in the long term. Mitigation, on the other hand, is very effective on the long term but much less so in the short term. This concluded Andries Hof, employee of PBL, in his thesis which he defended on November 26 2010 at the VU University in Amsterdam.
This study also concludes that the use of cost-benefit analysis to determine an optimal climate target is limited. The most important reason for this is that value judgements about the welfare of future generations – and with this the discounting method – has a much larger effect on the results than uncertainties in climate projections.
Finally, the thesis deals with financing adaptation in developing countries. According to international agreements, rich countries have to help finance adaptation in poorer countries which are most vulnerable to climate change. An Adaptation Fund has been established to accommodate this. This fund is fed by a share of proceeds from mitigation projects in poor countries financed by rich countries (so-called CDM projects). The thesis shows that such a mechanism is not effective and that additional financing mechanisms are necessary. A much larger transfer of funds from rich to poor countries could be reached if poor countries join a global system of emission trading.