Chapter 46: Regulatory Approaches to Climate Change Mitigation
Ian Bartle The challenge posed by climate change encapsulates a number of the key themes in modern regulatory governance. One important theme is how to interpret climate science and respond to risk and uncertainty. Despite the consensus among climate scientists about global warming, a difficult policy issue is the balance between a strategy of mitigation (limiting the greenhouse effect by reducing emissions) and a strategy of adaptation (reducing the negative effects of climate change). Modern ‘risk-based’ regulation, which involves attempts to inject objectivity into regulation with a more measured and calculative approach to risk (Hutter 2005), might suggest one approach. Precise assessments of climate change risk could inform decisions about how to respond; in particular, cost–benefit analysis could be undertaken on how to apportion money between mitigation and adaptation (Tol 2005). However, uncertainty pervades scientific knowledge of climate change, including the timing of temperature rises, what is ‘dangerous’ climate change, and whether and when a ‘tipping point’ will be reached after which catastrophic effects will ensue (Pachauri 2006; Schneider and Lane 2006: 7–23). Uncertainty suggests that a calculation to determine the balance between mitigation and adaptation cannot be undertaken in any meaningful way and points towards the importance of a strategy of mitigation. This leads to a second and central theme in regulatory governance: the regulatory approach to be adopted to reduce carbon emissions in order to mitigate climate change. As in the wider debates on regulatory governance, there is no consensus on the best approach to reduce...
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