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Responding to Rising Seas

OECD Country Approaches to Tackling Coastal Risks

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There is an urgent need to ensure that coastal areas are adapting to the impacts of climate change. Risks in these areas are projected to increase because of rising sea levels and development pressures. This report reviews how OECD countries can use their national adaptation planning processes to respond to this challenge. Specifically, the report examines how countries approach shared costs and responsibilities for coastal risk management and how this encourages or hinders risk-reduction behaviour by households, businesses and different levels of government. The report outlines policy tools that national governments can use to encourage an efficient, effective and equitable response to ongoing coastal change. It is informed by new analysis on the future costs of sea-level rise, and the main findings from four case studies (Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom).

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Foreword

Sea-level rise is one of the major challenges identified in the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. It is almost certain that we will experience at least one metre of sea level rise, with some models estimating this will happen within the next 80 years. This will have serious implications for damage to infrastructure, loss of land and displacement of communities. Even if we succeeded in limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees, sea levels will continue to rise for centuries to come, due to emissions we have already locked in. While living on the coast has always come with a certain level of flooding and erosion risks, climate change will alter our coastlines and we must prepare for this new reality.

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