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Strategies to adapt to an uncertain climate change


Many decisions concerning long-lived investments already need to take into account climate change. But doing so is not easy for at least two reasons. First, due to the rate of climate change, new infrastructure will have to be able to cope with a large range of changing climate conditions, which will make design more difficult and construction more expensive. Second, uncertainty in future climate makes it impossible to directly use the output of a single climate model as an input for infrastructure design, and there are good reasons to think that the needed climate information will not be available soon. Instead of optimizing based on the climate conditions projected by models, therefore, future infrastructure should be made more robust to possible changes in climate conditions. This aim implies that users of climate information must also change their practices and decision-making frameworks, for instance by adapting the uncertainty-management methods they currently apply to exchange rates or R&D outcomes. Five methods are examined: (i) selecting "no-regret" strategies that yield benefits even in absence of climate change; (ii) favouring reversible and flexible options; (iii) buying "safety margins" in new investments; (iv) promoting soft adaptation strategies, including long-term prospective: and (v) reducing decision time horizons. Moreover, it is essential to consider both negative and positive side-effects and externalities of adaptation measures. Adaptation-mitigation interactions also call for integrated design and assessment of adaptation and mitigation policies, which are often developed by distinct communities. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dates and versions

hal-00715561 , version 1 (08-07-2012)



Stéphane Hallegatte. Strategies to adapt to an uncertain climate change. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 2009, 19 (2), pp.240-247. ⟨10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2008.12.003⟩. ⟨hal-00715561⟩
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