Cost of adapting to climate change could hit $500 billion per year by 2050: report

The latest in UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report series looks at the difference between adaptation costs in developing countries and funds currently available, identifying a vast ‘adaptation finance gap’. The report was written by experts from 15 institutions, including Climate Analytics.

Date2016, May 10
 

The Adaptation Gap Report 2016 identifies trends and highlights challenges associated with measuring progress towards fulfilling the adaptation finance gap, while informing national and international efforts to advance adaptation. It analyses the ‘adaptation finance gap’ against the background of the provisions laid out in the Paris Agreement, and benefits from the insights included in the INDCs.

The report finds that the cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries could be four to five times greater than previous estimates.

Researchers evaluated earlier figures from a World Bank report in 2010, which concluded that $70 to $100 billion would be needed annually for the period 2010-2050 to cover the cost of climate change adaptation in developing countries and found that these figures could be highly underestimated. The cost of adapting to climate change in developing countries could range between $140 and $300 billion per year in 2030, and between $280 and $500 billion per year in 2050.

Adaptation costs are likely to increase sharply over time even if the world succeeds in limiting a global rise in temperatures to below two degrees Celsius by 2100. For higher scenarios of global warming, estimates of the adaptation costs in developing countries are higher even in early years.

Total bilateral and multilateral funding for climate change adaptation in developing countries has risen substantially in the five years leading up to 2014, reaching $22.5 billion. But despite this increase, the report warns that there will be a significant funding gap by 2050 unless new and additional finance for adaptation is made available.

To meet finance needs and avoid an adaptation gap the total finance for adaptation in 2030 would have to be significantly higher than international public finance today.

The report foresees a significant role in efforts to fund adaptation for the Green Climate Fund, which was set up by the UNFCCC, with its stated goal of splitting funding equally between mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The report was written by experts from 15 institutes, including Florent Baarsch from Climate Analytics, who was the lead author of Chapter 2, which focused on estimating adaptation costs.

The Adpatation Gap Report 2016 was launched at the Adaptation Futures Conference in Rotterdam on 10 May 2016.

You can download the whole report here.