The effect of vulnerability on climate change mitigation policies

Amit Tubi*, Itay Fischhendler, Eran Feitelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Climate change is likely to adversely affect many countries throughout the world, but the responses of different countries to this threat vary widely. Attempts to explain the differences in countries' mitigative policies have been largely deficient. This study seeks to assess the degree to which vulnerability may improve the level of explanation of adopted mitigation policies, studying over 90 countries between 1990 and 2011. Vulnerability is defined to be comprised of two basic factors: impacts (expected damages due to climate change) and adaptive capacity (the ability to adjust to these damages). As there may be a gap between declared and implemented policies, these components of mitigation policy are examined separately. In addition, other variables which mediate between these 'extreme ends' of mitigation policies are tested. The effect of vulnerability on climate change mitigation policies is examined by multiple regressions, incorporating a wide range of control variables. The results indicate that climate impacts do not affect mitigation policies. Adaptive capacity has a positive effect on the level of declared policy, but this effect becomes insignificant once implemented policy is examined. However, other tests suggest a possible transition from declarations to actions by high adaptive capacity countries. This finding suggests that high adaptive capacity countries do not view mitigation and adaptation as substitutes. Further analyses indicate that the insignificancy of impacts is caused by the uncertainty in their assessment.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The first author is grateful for additional funding given by the Amiran Fund, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The author also gratefully acknowledges the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for promoting this study by funding which enabled a visit to ETH Zurich. We wish to thank Thomas Bernauer and Michele Bättig from ETH Zurich and Jan Burck from Germanwatch for providing essential data. For helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper we would like to thank Thomas Bernauer and Tobias Böhmelt from ETH Zurich. We thank two anonymous reviewers for most helpful remarks and suggestions.


  • Adaptation
  • Adaptive capacity
  • Climate change
  • Impacts
  • Indices
  • Mitigation policies
  • Vulnerability


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