Economic costs of climate change and adaptation in Europe: Synthesis results from the COACCH project

11:15 Wednesday 29 May


Room S16


Jenny Tröltzsch (Germany) 1; Katriona Mcglade (Germany) 1; Paul Watkiss (United Kingdom) 2

1 - Ecologic Institute; 2 - Paul Watkiss Associates

In the coming years and decades, Europe will experience increasing climate change impacts. These include gradual changes – such as increasing mean temperature and changing precipitation patterns – as well as extreme events – such as flooding, storm surges, flash floods, heatwaves and droughts. Furthermore, climate and socio-economic changes, may trigger irreversible tipping points. All of these effects have the potential to produce increased economic costs. These costs of inaction are a key input for policy decision processes, including adaptation.

The COACCH project has reviewed and synthesized the latest knowledge on the economic costs of climate impacts and policy challenges in Europe, as well as the aggregate economic costs and benefits of adaptation. It summarizes the current information and remaining gaps with a focus on the European level but including global and national information. The analysis has covered 13 sectors: agriculture, forestry & fisheries, tourism, health, inland flooding & water management, coastal flooding, energy, transport, biodiversity, businesses & insurance.

For each sector, EC research projects, the academic literature and grey literature studies have been analysed to gather economic costs reported, key gaps for cost assessments in this sector, research recommendations and existing policy challenges.

This paper presents the findings of this synthesis. The first finding relates to the coverage of economic costs. The most comprehensive coverage are found for coastal zones and inland river flooding where comprehensive modeling approaches are already available. For agriculture, energy, forestry, fisheries, transport and tourism, there is some good coverage of cost estimates, but there are still some important gaps that need to be addressed. The coverage of climate cost assessments for business, industry, trade and insurances is limited and biodiversity and ecosystems are areas with a very low coverage on economic assessment of climate change.

The second finding relates to the potential aggregated costs of climate change in Europe. The new synthesis shows higher economic costs, especially under higher warming scenarios, than previous studies. Further, there is a strong distributional pattern across European regions, with some areas particularly badly affected in economic terms. The assessment also synthesizes the potential economic costs and benefits of adaptation, although it confirms that both mitigation and adaptation are needed.

The findings will feed into the co-design and development of research questions with stakeholders for the COACCH project, which aims to produce an improved downscaled assessment of the risks and costs of climate change in Europe.