24 November, 2023

Adaptation constraints in scenarios of socio-economic development


Emily Theokritoff, Nicole van Maanen, Marina Andrijevic, Adelle Thomas, Tabea Lissner and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner

Climate change adaptation is paramount, but increasing evidence suggests that adaptation action is subject to a range of constraints. For a realistic assessment of future adaptation prospects, it is crucial to understand the timescales needed to overcome these constraints. Here, we combine data on documented adaptation from the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative with national macro indicators and assess future changes in adaptation constraints alongside the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, spanning a wide range of future socio-economic development scenarios.

We find that even in the most optimistic scenario, it will take until well after 2050 to overcome key constraints, which will limit adaptation for decades to come particularly in vulnerable countries. The persistence of adaptation constraints calls for stringent mitigation, improved adaptation along with dedicated finance and increasing efforts to address loss and damage. Our approach allows to ground truth indicators that can be further used in climate modelling efforts, improving the representation of adaptation and its risk reduction potential.