The relationship between adaptation and mitigation in managing climate change risks: a regional response from North Central Victoria, Australia

  • Roger N. Jones
  • Paul Dettmann
  • Geoff Park
  • Maureen Rogers
  • Terry White
Original Article

Abstract

This two-part paper considers the complementarity between adaptation and mitigation in managing the risks associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect. Part one reviews the application of risk management methods to climate change assessments. Formal investigations of the enhanced greenhouse effect have produced three generations of risk assessment. The first led to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), First Assessment Report and subsequent drafting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The second investigated the impacts of unmitigated climate change in the Second and Third IPCC Assessment Reports. The third generation, currently underway, is investigating how risk management options can be prioritised and implemented. Mitigation and adaptation have two main areas of complementarity. Firstly, they each manage different components of future climate-related risk. Mitigation reduces the number and magnitude of potential climate hazards, reducing the most severe changes first. Adaptation increases the ability to cope with climate hazards by reducing system sensitivity or by reducing the consequent level of harm. Secondly, they manage risks at different extremes of the potential range of future climate change. Adaptation works best with changes of lesser magnitude at the lower end of the potential range. Where there is sufficient adaptive capacity, adaptation improves the ability of a system to cope with increasingly larger changes over time. By moving from uncontrolled emissions towards stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mitigation limits the upper part of the range. Different activities have various blends of adaptive and mitigative capacity. In some cases, high sensitivity and low adaptive capacity may lead to large residual climate risks; in other cases, a large adaptive capacity may mean that residual risks are small or non-existent. Mitigative and adaptive capacity do not share the same scale: adaptive capacity is expressed locally, whereas mitigative capacity is different for each activity and location but needs to be aggregated at the global scale to properly assess its potential benefits in reducing climate hazards. This can be seen as a demand for mitigation, which can be exercised at the local scale through exercising mitigative capacity. Part two of the paper deals with the situation where regional bodies aim to maximise the benefits of managing climate risks by integrating adaptation and mitigation measures at their various scales of operation. In north central Victoria, Australia, adaptation and mitigation are being jointly managed by a greenhouse consortium and a catchment management authority. Several related studies investigating large-scale revegetation are used to show how climate change impacts and sequestration measures affect soil, salt and carbon fluxes in the landscape. These studies show that trade-offs between these interactions will have to be carefully managed to maximise their relative benefits. The paper concludes that when managing climate change risks, there are many instances where adaptation and mitigation can be integrated at the operational level. However, significant gaps between our understanding of the benefits of adaptation and mitigation between local and global scales remain. Some of these may be addressed by matching demands for mitigation (for activities and locations where adaptive capacity will be exceeded) with the ability to supply that demand through localised mitigative capacity by means of globally integrated mechanisms.

Keywords

Adaptation Climate change risks Integration Mitigation Risk management Tradeoffs 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to members of the Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance and the North Central Catchment Management Authority for their efforts in producing strategic plans for their respective organisations. Paul Durack prepared some data for one of the case studies. The Australian Greenhouse Office and the Greenhouse Unit of the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment funded some of the case study research. La Trobe University provided logistical support for a number of meetings attended by the authors. Ben Preston and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments that greatly improved the paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger N. Jones
    • 1
  • Paul Dettmann
    • 2
  • Geoff Park
    • 3
  • Maureen Rogers
    • 4
  • Terry White
    • 5
  1. 1.CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric ResearchVictoriaAustralia
  2. 2.Greenhouse Balanced, 2149 Burke & Wills Track, KynetonVictoriaAustralia
  3. 3.North Central Catchment Management Authority, HuntlyVictoriaAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Sustainable Regional Communities, La Trobe University BendigoVictoriaAustralia
  5. 5.VictoriaAustralia

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