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Climate Change Risks and Adaptation

Linking Policy and Economics

image of Climate Change Risks and Adaptation

Climate change is giving rise to diverse risks, ranging from changing incidences of tropical diseases to increased risks of drought, varying widely in their potential severity, frequency and predictability. Governments must integrate the management of these climate risks into policy making if they are to successfully adapt to a changing climate. Economic analysis has a vital role to play in supporting these efforts, by identifying costs and benefits and supporting decision-making for an uncertain future. However, this analysis needs to be adapted to the institutions, policies and climate risks in a given country. Building on the experience of OECD countries, this report sets out how the latest economic evidence and tools can enable better policy making for adaptation.

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Executive summary

The effects of climate change are already starting to be felt: sea-levels are rising, average temperatures are increasing and precipitation patterns are changing. Societies and ecosystems have always adapted to changes in their climate, but projected changes over the course of this century would lie outside of the bounds of historical experience. At the same time, the pace of the projected change is faster than any climate shift in the past millions of years. The consequences of this change will include shifts in agricultural production, changes in morbidity and losses of valuable ecosystems. Recent OECD modelling found that climate change impacts could reduce global GDP by between 1% and 3.2% per year by 2060. These are the known consequences. However, as the world moves further outside of its usual operating parameters, there is an increasing risk of encountering “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

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