Climate Change Adaptation versus Climate Change Mitigation

From Open Risk Manual

Climate Change Adaptation versus Climate Change Mitigation

There are fundamental differences between climate change adaptation activities and mitigation activities:

For mitigation activities, a one-tonne reduction of CO2 emissions has the same impact regardless of where the mitigation activity takes place. It is therefore possible to define lists of activities that are deemed to support Climate Change Mitigation. Adaptation responds instead to physical risks that are mostly location and context specific.

For example, there are in principle several engineering and non-engineering options available to a coastal city to respond to the risk resulting from increased sea level. Responses will vary according to where the city is located, its size, the institutional and financial capacity of the city administration to deal with climate risk, the technical and engineering expertise available, the priority of the city, the perception of the citizens, and other factors. The adaptation responses will benefit the city that adopt them and possibly systems that depend or interact with the city.

The context-specific nature of Climate Change Adaptation means that it is not possible to produce a stand-alone and exhaustive list of activities that could be viewed as contributing to adaptation under all circumstances. Instead of a list of adaptation activities, a set of guiding principles and screening criteria is used to assess the potential contribution of an economic activity to adapt to climate change and increase climate resilience.

To aid users of the Taxonomy, the TEG has developed an indicative framework[1] for classification of climate-related hazards and a climate sensitivity matrix for specific economic activities.


  1. Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, Technical Report, June 2019