Beginning in the late 1980s, climate change issues were divided into two distinct policy categories: mitigation (carbon emissions reduction and sequestration) and adaptation (adjusting to the impacts of climate change). Climate change mitigation has faced challenging political obstacles, while adaptation has developed into an increasingly powerful operational framework centered on water management. However, these categories make little sense today. Climate impacts on the water cycle have become pervasive enough that the pulse of water through economies has quickened, particularly in sectors such as energy, agriculture and manufacturing. The continued use of fixed-climate design approaches to long-lived infrastructure particularly threatens long-term economic and ecological sustainability as well as carbon reduction targets. At the same time, a new set of practical methods is emerging to link climate change mitigation and adaptation, using water as a bridge. 2015 could be an important year in developing global and national policy frameworks to find coherence between mitigation and adaptation.
In the fourth talk in the Center for Energy Studies series on public policy and climate change, John H. Matthews, secretariat coordinator for the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation, will discuss water as a bridge to climate change mitigation and adaptation.