Adaptation costs have been radically underestimated

This shouldn’t be news. We should have known this all along.

Actually, many of us did. Particularly those of us who do not steer our stars by the pragmatism of the moment. And those of us in the more vulnerable parts of the world.

The small island states come particularly to mind, as does Africa, the unlucky continent where the full impacts of climate-induced desertification will be felt first. In such places as these, the various estimates of “adaptation costs” (as if all impacts could be “adapted” to at any price) have long been regarded with skepticism, if not contempt.

This includes the UNFCCC’s own official 2007 estimates, embedded in the UNFCCC Secretariat’s INVESTMENT AND FINANCIAL FLOWS TO ADDRESS CLIMATE (2007, see table IX-65. And see as well its 2008 update), which though it long contained the highest authoritative adaptation cost estimates (rising to $49 to $171 billion per year in 2030) still turned out to be low-balling the problem. Continue reading “Adaptation costs have been radically underestimated”