Coastal adaptation against sea level rise makes economic sense: a new JRC study published in Nature Communication

Published: Monday, 11 May 2020 Print Email

Economic motivation for raising coastal flood

The coastal zone is an area of high interest. At present, more than 200 million European citizens live within 50 km from the coastline, and current trends indicate that migration toward coastal zones is continuing. Coastal zones are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to the combined effects of sea level rise and potential changes in the frequency and intensity of storms. The continued rise in sea levels along Europe’s coastlines in view of global warming could result in unprecedented coastal flood losses in Europe, in case no additional coastal protection and risk-reduction measures are implemented.

There exists a range of possible adaptation measures to increase the resilience of future coastal societies to flooding, summarized as protect, accommodate, retreat and do nothing. Coastal adaptation, however, could prevent 95% of the projected economic losses.

These findings come from a new JRC study published in Nature Communication.

This study combines climate change projections and scenarios of socio-economic development from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It estimates the expected range of economic losses from coastal flooding during the present century under different greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

JRC scientists explored how different levels of coastal adaptation can reduce the projected losses and evaluated the costs and benefits of such interventions, allowing them to estimate the level of protection which is economically optimal.

The costs were calculated as the sum of national-level capital investment costs to raise dykes and maintenance costs. The benefits are the damages avoided by increasing the dyke height, comparing the difference between future damages with and without raised dykes.

In the absence of climate action and with continued demographic pressure and urbanisation along coastlines, annual damages from coastal flooding in the EU and UK could increase sharply from €1.4 billion today to almost €1.6 trillion by 2100, with 3.9 million people exposed to coastal flooding every year.

An original article can be find here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-15665-3.pdf 

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