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Climate Change: the Cost of Inaction and the Cost of Adaptation

Executive Summary

Significant changes in climate are already visible globally, and are expected to become more pronounced in the future. These will lead to wide ranging impacts on the natural and man-made environment across different sectors and regions, which in turn will lead to economic costs. These economic costs of climate change are often known as the ‘costs of inaction’ and are increasingly helping to inform the policy debate. It is also evident that even if emissions of greenhouse gases stop today, changes in climate will continue for many decades. Therefore, in addition to mitigation, it is essential to develop adequate adaptive responses (adaptation) as a means of moderating damages or realising opportunities associated with climate change. To allow a fully informed debate on adaptation, there is a need to consider the economic aspects of adaptation. Against this background, the EEA has prepared this report with the aim:

  • to identify and highlight methodological issues and uncertainties of cost estimation;
  • to review existing information on economic costs of climate change at a European level;
  • to highlight the need for improved information on impacts of climate change and the need to monitor the effectiveness of adaptation strategies and actions;
  • to facilitate information sharing among EEA member countries and learning from ‘good practice’;
  • to identify research needs.

It is stressed that this report has a different focus from other recent reviews (IPCC, 20007b; Stern, 2006): it concentrates on the European scale and investigates methodological aspects in detail.

Suggested citation

EEA Technical report No 13/2007. ISSN 1725 2237. ISBN 978-92-9167-974-4 EEA, Copenhagen, 2007.

For more information on monitoring the effectiveness of climate change adaptation measures, another paper called ‘Making Adaptation Count’ provides a detailed analysis of different techniques of monitoring and evaluating.

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