Climate change seriously threatens sustainable development, poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in developing countries.
However, climate change also provides an opportunity for developing countries to adopt a development pathway that is climate resilient and less carbon-intensive — one that promotes clean, efficient energy technologies and the sustainable management of natural resources such as land, water and forests. Such a development pathway would help reduce the exposure of the vulnerable communities in developing countries the adverse impacts of climate change, while at the same time contribute to the global greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts.
In general, there are two different strategies when it comes to dealing with climate change. We can try to stop future warming (mitigation of climate change) or we can find ways to live in our warming world (adaptation to climate change).
Climate mitigation is any action taken to permanently eliminate or reduce the long-term risk and hazards of climate change to human life, property.
Climate adaptation refers to the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.
Whereas mitigation of climate change is a well-established topic since the very beginning of international climate negotiations, adapting to climate change related impacts has only recently climbed the agenda of the international climate discourse. In the Third Assessment Report (AR3) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adaptation to climate change was broadly adressed for the first time on the highest political stage.
Here, adaptation is defined as follows:
"Adaptation is adjustment in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. This term refers to changes in processes, practices or structures to moderate or offset potential damages or to take advantage of opportunities associated with changes in climate."
Especially in developing countries the expected change of certain climate stimuli (e.g. sealevel-rise, shifting patterns of precipitation leading either to droughts or floods, storms etc.) can possibly lead to devastating results. Critical infrastructures (i.e. those sectors of society that are crucial for a proper functioning of the system) such as agriculture, health, but also transport and energy are among the most vulnerable sectors regarding climate change.
An excellent overview of the difficulties facing the energy sector with regard to adaptation to climate change has been published recently by the World Bank. The detailed paper, financed by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), can be downloaded here.
- ↑ UCAR - http://scied.ucar.edu/longcontent/climate-mitigation-and-adaptation
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 global greenhouse warming - http://www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/climate-mitigation-and-adaptation.html
- ↑ IPCC 2001: 881