Tools and Tips

Mitigation and adaptation for climate change

June 27, 2021 | Charles Lin

Image by F. Muhammad and cfarnsworth from Pixabay

Image by F. Muhammad and cfarnsworth from Pixabay

To mitigate is to make less severe, serious, or painful. To adapt is to adjust to new conditions. What do they mean for climate change?

Mitigation means reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. An example is to use renewable energy (such as using wind or solar power) to generate electricity instead of using coal or gas. It also means removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as by planting trees, as they absorb carbon dioxide.

Adaptation means adjusting our activities to the changing climate. Examples are building sea walls in coastal areas as protection against sea level rise and increased flooding, or growing different crops in response to changing agricultural conditions.

We undertake mitigation and adaptation actions in our daily lives. Consider the risks of a car traffic accident. Safe driving practice, such as obeying speed limits and not tailgating, mitigate such risks. Putting on seat belts can save us from severe injuries or even death in case of an accident – we are adapting to this unfortunate possibility.

Climate change is already occurring and its impacts are felt around the world. Given the scale and impact of the expected climate change in the coming years and decades, mitigation measures must be front and centre in our actions on climate change. As we make this effort, some adaptation on a local scale to actual or expected climate change is needed.

What is Canada doing? Many countries, including Canada, have made a commitment to reach net zero by 2050, a major long-term mitigation measure. Canadian cities and provinces have climate action strategies that involve both mitigation and adaptation. For example, “TransformTO”, which includes the development of a Net Zero strategy, will help transform Toronto to a low-carbon city. Vancouver has approved a “Climate Emergency Action Plan” that will transition the city off fossil fuels and promote a climate-friendly lifestyle for its citizens.

Please think about actions you can take on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and join the action with mitigation efforts!

Charles Lin

Charles is a retired atmospheric scientist based in Toronto. He stays busy as founder and lead of ImpactNetZero, keeping healthy in mind and body, and reading stories to his two grandchildren.

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