Facts and Figures

Adapting to climate change could cost 100 billion dollars a year several decades from now.

Estimates of the cost of adapting to climate change vary because they depend on future greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation measures and assumptions about anthropogenic climate change itself and about how effectively countries will adapt to it. The following are some estimates of the costs of adaptation for developing countries:

  • World Bank estimates of the additional costs to adapt or climate-proof new investments range from USD 9 to USD 41 billion a year. And a recent update by the United Nations Development Programme put the mid-range of the costs of adaptation at about USD 37 billion a year in 2015.
  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change estimates additional investments for adaptation to climate change at USD 28 - USD 67 billion and as high as USD 100 billion a year several decades from now. Estimates of the additional investments needed in water supply infrastructure in 2030 are USD 11 billion, 85% of it in developing countries.
  • Oxfam estimates the current costs of adaptation to climate change for all developing countries at more than USD 50 billion a year.  
  • Current Global Environment Facility funds (about USD 160 million) are several orders of magnitude too little to meet these projected needs.

While there is considerable debate about these estimates, they provide useful order-of-magnitude numbers for assessing resources available for adaptation. 

  • Current Global Environment Facility funds (about USD 160 million) are several orders of magnitude too little to meet these projected needs.
  • In the world’s richest countries, growing awareness of climate change is slowly inducing people to alter their lifestyles and live in a more sustainable manner. But these changes alone are unlikely to substantially counteract the pressure from rising living standards in emerging market economies consuming more goods and services.
  • Current International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections of rising temperatures and sea levels and increased intensity of droughts and storms suggest that substantial population displacements will take place within the next 30-50 years, particularly in coastal zones. 

Related themes: Climate Change and Adaptation; Uncertainty and Risk; Investing in Infrastructure

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