A policy-maker in Ethiopia, managing a predominantly agricultural economy, and one that is likely to greatly affected by climate change, would probably like to know the impact of climate change as well as what it will cost to adapt to the impacts. Given the potential for more droughts and floods, what are the strategies and costs for adaptation? Like Ethiopia, other developing countries are grappling with the same question. It is an important one, but has not been widely addressed until recently.
This matter was given sudden prominence in 2006 when the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) asked how much financial need developing countries will require to both reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The COP’s request created an overnight cottage industry estimating the total costs of adaptation by developing countries. Reports were published by the World Bank (2007), Oxfam (2007), the UNFCCC Secretariat (2009), Parry et al. (2009), and others. Most of these studies relied on expert judgment to develop adaptation cost estimates. The UNFCCC, however, applied some “top-down” rules in some sectors to rapidly estimate costs.
The latest and clearly most detailed estimate of the potential costs of adaptation in developing countries was just released in the UNFCCC conference in Bonn by the World Bank titled Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change (EACC). This report was a culmination of years of effort by the Bank to develop global and country level estimates of adaptation costs. The EACC is the most detailed estimate that has been developed to date because one, it addresses more sectors than prior estimates, two, it does so in a more systematic manner than its predecessors, and three, it estimates global and national level costs. The EACC study estimated global costs for infrastructure, coastal zones, water resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, human health, and extreme weather. Each sector’s cost estimate was developed by applying rules to analyze impacts and costs as a result of climate change.