This is a guest post by Roddy Campbell. @Roddy_Campbell
Is this a sign that climate impact alarmism is on the wane? Could adaptation be fighting back against Kyoto-style mitigation policies, and even be becoming received wisdom among international agencies and NGOs?
A June 5th Press Release from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), shockingly proclaims, ‘Latin America and the Caribbean face massive economic damages from global warming, report warns’. But it contains some very interesting stuff.
The full report will be released at the Rio+20 Summit in two weeks time, so we’ll have to wait to see how they’ve worked out the damages, estimated to be ‘in the order of $100 billion [per year] by 2050‘ for Latin America and the Caribbean. There’s also a short report teaser here. Let’s not argue about that figure, which is based upon 2C temperature rise over pre-industrial levels. The only clue given is that ⅓ to ½ of the cost is to agriculture.
We can however see what the three organisations who produced the report estimate to be the cost of dealing with this damage by mitigation or adaptation:
‘Estimated annual damages in LAC caused by the physical impacts associated with a rise of 2C over pre-industrial levels are estimated to be of the order of over $100 billion, or about 2% of current GDP’
‘Latin America and the Caribbean face annual damages in the order of $100 billion by 2050 from diminishing agricultural yields, disappearing glaciers, flooding, droughts and other events triggered by a warming planet, according to the findings of a new report to be released at the Rio+20 summit.’
Cost of Mitigation:
‘The report estimates that countries would need to invest an additional $110 billion per year over the next four decades to decrease per capita carbon emissions to levels consistent with global climate stabilization goals.’
‘The report identifies pathways to bend the emission curve to two tons per capita, by promoting zero net emissions from deforestation and other land-use practices by 2030, combined with efforts to eliminate the carbon footprint in the power matrix and transport infrastructure by 2050, at an annual cost of $110 billion.’
That’s over 2% of current regional GDP per annum (and of course its effectiveness is predicated on the rest of the world’s emitters doing the same).
Cost of Adaptation:
‘On the positive side, the cost of investments in adaptation to address these impacts is much smaller, in the order of one tenth the physical damages, according to the study …’
‘… overall costs to adapt are estimated to be on the order of 0.2% of GDP for the region, or about 10% of the costs of physical impacts, indicating that adaptation is generally very cost-effective.’
Yes, that’s right. 1/10th of the cost. 0.2% of GDP. Versus GDP growth of over 6% in 2010. And ‘adaptation is generally very cost-effective’. Praise be.
I’m not sure what the conclusion to this post is, other than that I am simultaneously unsurprised at the ratio of costs, and mildly surprised that this report for Rio has been produced.
I am also unsurprised that what coverage I have seen has focussed on the headline — ‘massive economic damages’– not on the trivial cost of adaptation.
I am of course delighted for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.
And I’m amusing myself by pretending to be a benevolent dictator of the region, wondering how my population will use the $90 billion per annum saving of adaptation over mitigation over the forty year period to improve their lives. I might even round it up to $4 trillion for them. I dare say they’ll spend it better than I would anyway.