Climate Change Adaptation Focused on Protecting Property, Study Finds

Climate Change Adaptation Focused on Protecting Property, Study Finds

A new study by researchers in the United Kingdom finds that global spending on climate change adaptation totaled $310.36 billion in 2014-15, or approximately 0.4 percent of global GDP, Mashable reports.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the report, Adaptation Responses to Climate Change Differ Between Global Megacities (abstract), analyzed the climate adaptation efforts of ten megacities that are members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and found significant differences between cities in developing countries and developed ones. Between 2009 and 2015, for example, "developing country cities spent half the proportion of GDP and significantly less per capita, suggesting that adaptation [spending] is driven by wealth rather than the number of vulnerable people."    

The study by researchers at University College London and kMatrix, a market intelligence research firm, also found that cities in developing countries devoted a greater share of their adaptation economies to agriculture, forestry, and the natural environment, while cities such as New York, Paris, and London spent more on energy, water, and professional services. According to the report, the differences in adaptation responses, both as a function of GDP and population size, suggest that "current adaptation responses may...be influenced by market-based responses to protecting physical capital rather than at-risk populations."

At the same time, Lucien Georgeson, a UCL doctoral researcher and the study's lead author, noted that cities in developing countries probably feel greater urgency to strengthen infrastructure related to basic services and so allocate more resources to sectors such as agriculture or health. "On the other side of that...there's some evidence that developed countries' cities have a different challenge, with their higher proportional spend on energy and water," Georgeson said, noting that these priorities may be related to the complex, and often aging, energy and water infrastructures in those cities.