The cost of adapting to climate change will be significantly higher than estimated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) warns a new report published by the International Institute for Environment and Development and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London.
The analysis argues the current estimate excludes the cost of adaptation for key sectors, including energy, manufacturing, retailing, mining, tourism and ecosystems, indicating that the real cost of adaption will be two to three times greater the $40-170 billion projection by the UNFCCC.
“The amount of money on the table at Copenhagen is one of the key factors that will determine whether we achieve a climate change agreement,” said Martin Parry, lead author of the report and a visiting research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. “But previous estimates of adaptation costs have substantially misjudged the scale of funds needed.”
Great Barrier Reef in Australia
For example, the UNFCCC’s estimate of US$11 billion for water excludes “the costs of adapting to floods and assumes no costs for transferring water within nations from areas of surplus to areas of deficit,” according to the report. Further the UNFCCC’s estimate of $11 billion for coastal zones excludes increased storm intensity and used low IPCC predictions of sea level rise. The report says the actual cost could be three times higher. The cost of protecting key ecosystems an the services they provide humanity could run over $350 billion per year.
The findings are an impetus to both reduce emissions that are driving climate change as well as improve adaptation cost estimates used during climate change negotiations.