Since the mitigation strategies intervene on the causes of climate change, while those of adaptation on the effects, it is necessary to promote an integrated approach capable of obtaining results both in the short and long term.
In order to tackle such a complex problem as climate change it is necessary to act at the source, reducing or eliminating the causes of the phenomenon (minimizing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere), but, at the same time, it is essential to limit its effects (preparing the the territory to the impacts due to the alteration of the climate).
Considering this premise, by mitigation we mean the strategies that intervene on the causes of climate change, while by adaptation we mean the measures that act on the effects.
Therefore, by mitigation, we mean all those actions capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, concrete processes of energy transition and decarbonisation could be created. By preferring renewable energy sources to fossil fuels, global emissions could be cut. These strategies represent, in theory, an incisive solution to combat climate change. However, it should be noted that these are very costly measures and that they guarantee concrete results in the long term.
For this reason, once the mitigation plan has been devised, it is necessary to prepare the territory to face, in the short term, the impacts due to climate change. Adaptation strategies, in fact, include actions that act on the effects of climate change. For example, in the case of coastal communities at risk due to sea level rise, it would be advisable to carry out protective interventions along the coast, or, in the case of evident alterations in the climate in particular areas, it would be necessary to choose the most compatible agricultural varieties with the new climatic conditions. Adaptation measures, unlike mitigation measures, are carried out on a local scale (regional or national) and not on a global scale, are less expensive and are effective in the short term.
For these reasons, limiting oneself to adaptation or mitigation strategies alone could prove useless. An integrated approach, on the other hand, would represent an effective solution both to counter the causes and effects of climate change.
The integrated approach: an effective response to the problem of climate change
In order to better address the problem of climate change it is necessary to create plans, strategies and actions capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also of limiting the negative impacts due to climate alterations.
The integrated approach can be applied in various sectors, such as in the energy sector.
Extreme climatic events can create problems for the supply of electricity by causing “blackouts“. To prevent such a scenario, it is possible to replace large centralized plants with a decentralized system based on renewable energy sources. In this way, the effects of climate change are addressed, and, at the same time, the process of energy transition and decarbonisation is favored, with the consequent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Another sector, which offers a concrete possibility of applying the integrated approach, is the building world.
In the case of areas particularly sensitive to climate change, for example, buildings and structures should be built that are resistant to extreme climatic events, but also energy efficient, which are better adapted to heat waves. In fact, the use of environmentally friendly materials with excellent performance in terms of thermal insulation and the use of systems capable of exploiting renewable energy sources, would favor the creation of an ideal microclimate for the thermal well-being of individuals, reducing, at the same time, greenhouse gas emissions thanks to the elimination of fossil fuels.
An integrated approach to mitigation and adaptation, therefore, can be an excellent tool to transform a threat into an opportunity for more sustainable development. The simultaneous adoption of these strategies could favor the rebirth and economic and social revitalization of entire territories, making them resilient to climate change at the same time.