Costs and benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation

05-03-2014 | Publication

Mitigating climate change reduces the risk of uncertain but potentially large damage from climate change, and reduces the consequences of failing to adapt to climate change. Stringent mitigation policy leads to lower overall risks, as the uncertainty in mitigation costs is lower than the uncertainty in climate damage. In the long term, the benefits of mitigation will outweigh the costs.

Climate change can have large consequences, such as more extreme weather events and a rise in sea level. Society can adapt to and mitigate climate change to cope with these challenges. Both adaptation and mitigation have their costs and benefits.

Timing and uncertainty are crucial aspects of the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation. In the short term, global adaptation costs will not depend heavily on the mitigation effort. In the second half of this century, without mitigation efforts, adaptation costs are likely to increase sharply and large residual damage will remain unsolved, as adaptation can only reduce them to a certain degree. This is why studies that focus on the possible risks according to a precautionary approach rather than on costs and benefits, recommend stringent mitigation policy.