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Wrong thinking about emissions and adaptation.

June 5, 2010

What is the link between reducing emissions that cause climate change, and adapting to the effects of climate change? The answer is very complicated, but I think one thing should be clear: they are both needed, and they don’t necessarily need to be linked.

A front page story in today’s paper illustrates some problems that I bet we’re going to see more and more in the coming years. In short, someone got hold of some informal draft legislation, now dubbed a “climate bill,” which doesn’t seem to do much to reduce carbon emissions. Some are not pleased about this:

Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said a climate change bill needed to reduce emissions: ”If it doesn’t, it is not addressing the problem.”

I haven’t seen the bill itself, so I have no idea what it does, or doesn’t do. But if we’re going to have this carbon emission litmus test for every piece of legislation that has anything to do with climate, then we are foreclosing a lot of really good options.

If the political climate is not right for emissions policy at this juncture, then wouldn’t it make sense to make progress in other areas related to climate? Adaptation policy does not need emissions policy in order to proceed. Environmental change is happening whether we reduce emissions or not, and it would be a good idea to work on that.

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