IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

19.4 Assessment of response strategies to avoid key vulnerabilities

This section reviews the literature addressing the linkages between key vulnerabilities and response strategies in order to avoid or reduce them. This section is structured as follows. Section 19.4.1 reviews the literature on the role of adaptation to avoid key vulnerabilities. As discussed in Section 19.2, the lack of adaptive capacity, or the inability to adapt, is one of the criteria relevant for the selection of key vulnerabilities. Section 19.4.2 reviews the literature that specifically addresses the avoidance of key vulnerabilities through mitigation of climate change. Section 19.4.3 synthesises the knowledge about avoiding key vulnerabilities of climate change.

The principal response strategies – mitigation of climate change and adaptation – are often portrayed as having largely different foci in terms of their characteristic spatial and temporal scales. Other important strategies include investing in gaining knowledge (e.g., improving predictions and the understanding of options) and investing in capacity-building (improving ability and tools to make good decisions under uncertainty). Finally, some have suggested geo-engineering as a backstop policy option (see, e.g., Izrael, 2005; Cicerone, 2006; Crutzen, 2006; Kiehl, 2006; Wigley, 2006, for an update on this debate).

Given the integrating nature of this section at the interface between climate change impacts and vulnerabilities, mitigation, and adaptation, there are important links with other chapters of the IPCC AR4. Most importantly, WGII Chapter 17 discusses the role of adaptation to climate change; WGII Chapter 18, WGIII Chapter 2 Section 2.5 and Chapter 3 Section 3.5 discuss the links between mitigation and adaptation; WGIII Chapter 1 Section 1.2 and Chapter 2 Section 2.2 discuss the characteristics of the challenge and some decision-making problems in responding to global climate change, respectively; WGII Chapter 2 Section 2.2.7 and WGIII Chapter 2 Section 2.3 discuss methods to address uncertainties in this context; WGIII Chapter 3 Section 3.3 and Chapter 3 Section 3.6 discuss climate change mitigation from a long-term and a short-term perspective, respectively; and WGII Chapter 2 Section 2.4.6 discusses methods of evaluating impacts associated with mitigation scenarios.