From Mitigation to Adaptation?

Photo Credit: Alamy/Corbis; The Economist

In conjunction with the Climate talks this week in Cancun, The Economist focuses its print edition this week (Nov. 27-Dec. 3, 2010) on “How to Live with Climate Change,” perhaps recognizing a shift that is already taking place in international negotiations from climate change mitigation — to adaptation.

The Climate talks taking place in Cancun this week are not likely to result in a comprehensive emissions reduction agreement, but rather negotiators are expected to focus on areas where there is possibility of agreement, such as creating incentives for countries to curb deforestation, GHG monitoring and reporting methodologies to verify reductions, and intellectual property issues related to technology transfer.  And as the international community looks to continue to move forward on areas of consensus — we are also likely to see the conversation shift in some subtle and not-so-subtle ways to reflect the world economy and changing public opinion.

But there are certain realities of climate change that the world will have to deal with, consensus or not. As this piece in the Economist observes:

The fight to limit global warming to easily tolerated levels is thus over. Analysts who have long worked on adaptation to climate change—finding ways to live with scarcer water, higher peak temperatures, higher sea levels and weather patterns at odds with those under which today’s settled patterns of farming developed—are starting to see their day in the uncomfortably hot sun. That such measures cannot protect everyone from all harm that climate change may bring does not mean that they should be ignored. On the contrary, they are sorely needed.

Posted by: Anne Hanson, Executive Editor for Development

H/T to Georgetown Professor Robert Huffman who recently discussed the Economist series and the climate negotiations in Cancun with his seminar on energy law and climate change.