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The Costs and Benefits of Adaptation in Europe: Review Summary and Synthesis


This briefing note summarises the review and synthesis work on the costs (and benefits) of adaptation to climate change in Europe. The research received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.The review has covered European, sectoral, regional and national studies, as well as global studies that report information for Europe. This information is important in raising awareness of potential adaptation needs, providing a first indication of possible adaptation financing needs, and in providing information to help develop European level and Member State strategies for adaptation.

Key Findings

  • The review has found that the coverage of the adaptation cost estimates is limited, though the evidence base in now growing (though it is primarily in the grey literature).
  • Around 50 studies of the costs of adaptation in Europe have been found and reviewed. The findings are summarised below, by sector, region and country.
  • The existing sectoral information on adaptation costs has a very uneven distribution.
  • The largest number of studies, and those with most sophistication, exist for the coastal zone sector, where European wide, regional, national and local-scale examples can be found.
  • These coastal studies use a wide range of methods, including impact assessment based adaptation analysis, macro-economic model assessments of adaptation costs, risk management assessments, cost-benefit analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis and portfolio/real options analysis. There are also a number of cross sectoral studies emerging, which look at the indirect effects of coastal flooding on e.g. health and tourism.

For other sectors the coverage is more limited. The studies are summarised in the table below. In summary:

  • There are several European and national level studies on the costs and benefits of energy demand for heating and cooling (autonomous adaptation).
  • There are some estimates of adaptation costs in the health sector, but these tend to be limited to a small number of adaptation measures (e.g. heat alert systems and some preventative or reactive treatment).
  • There are agricultural studies of autonomous (farm level) adaptation, but relatively few that include planned adaptation.

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