The Azimuth Project
Adaptation to global warming



From the Wikipedia introduction:

Adaptation to global warming and climate change is a response to climate change that seeks to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to climate change effects. Even if emissions are stabilized relatively soon, climate change and its effects will last many years, and adaptation will be necessary. Climate change adaptation is especially important in developing countries since those countries are predicted to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. That is, the capacity and potential for humans to adapt (called adaptive capacity) is unevenly distributed across different regions and populations, and developing countries generally have less capacity to adapt. Adaptive capacity is closely linked to social and economic development (IPCC, 2007). The economic costs of adaptation to climate change are likely to cost billions of dollars annually for the next several decades, though the amount of money needed is unknown. Adaptation will be more difficult for larger magnitudes and higher rates of climate change.

Another policy response to climate change, known as climate change mitigation is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or enhance the removal of these gases from the atmosphere (enhancing carbon sinks). Even the most effective reductions in emissions, however, would not prevent further climate change impacts, making the need for adaptation unavoidable. In a literature assessment, Klein et al. (2007) assessed options for adaptation. They concluded, with very high confidence, that in the absence of mitigation efforts, the effects of climate change would reach such a magnitude as to make adaptation impossible for some natural systems, e.g., ecosystems. For human systems, the economic and social costs of unmitigated climate change would be very high.




The United Nations Development Programme estimated that an additional USD 86 billion per year would be needed in 2015. According to UNFCCC estimates in 2007, costs of adaptation to climate change would cost USD 49–171 Billion per annum globally by 2030, of which a significant share of the additional investment and financial flows, USD 28-67 billion would be needed in 2030. This represents a doubling of current official development assistance (ODA). This estimate has been critiqued by Parry et al. (2009), in a joint study by IIED and the Grantham Institute, which argues that the UNFCCC estimate underestimates the cost of adaptation to climate change by a factor of 2 or 3. Moreover, sectors such as tourism, mining, energy and retail were not included in the UNFCCC estimate.

The more recent World Bank Study on the ‘Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change’ found that the costs of adaptation would be in the range of USD 75–100 Billion per year between 2010 and 2050; with higher estimates under the wetter global scenario than the drier scenario, assuming that warming will be about 2 degrees by 2050.The benefits of strong, early action on mitigation considerably outweigh the costs.


Scheraga and Grambsch identify 9 fundamental principles to be considered when designing adaptation policy.

  • The effects of climate change vary by region.
  • The effects of climate change may vary across demographic groups.
  • Climate change poses both risks and opportunities.
  • The effects of climate change must be considered in the context of multiple stressors and factors, which may be as important to the design of adaptive responses as the sensitivity of the change.
  • Adaptation comes at a cost.
  • Adaptive responses vary in effectiveness, as demonstrated by current efforts to cope with climate variability.
  • The systemic nature of climate impacts complicates the development of adaptation policy.
  • Maladaptation can result in negative effects that are as serious as the climate-induced effects that are being


category: climate