Hard and soft paths for climate change adaptation - Sovacool, 2011

Abstract: Amory Lovins’ distinction between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ paths of energy technologies is applied, mutatis mutandis, to humanity’s efforts to adapt to climate change. It is argued that hard adaptive measures involve capital-intensive, large, complex, inflexible technology and infrastructure, whereas soft adaptive measures prioritize natural capital, community control, simplicity and appropriateness. The prevalence of these two types of adaptation pathways is illustrated through two case studies from the
Maldives: The Safer Island Development Program and the Integrating Climate Change Risks Program. Policymakers must be aware that hard and soft adaptation measures may trade off with each other, and give both paths due consideration.

Benjami K. Sovacool, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, 469C Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259772, Singapore