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Journal article Open Access

The Costs of Sea-Level Rise: Coastal Adaptation Investments vs Inaction in Iberian Coastal Cities

Abadie, L.M.; Sainz de Murieta, E.; Galarraga, I.

Iberian coastal cities are subject to significant risks in the next decades due to climate change-induced sea-level rise. These risks are quite uncertain depending on several factors. In this article, we estimate potential economic damage in 62 Iberian coastal cities from 2020 to 2100 using regional relative sea-level rise data under three representative concentration pathways (RCP 8.5, RCP 4.5 and RCP 2.6). We analyze the expected accumulated damage costs if no adaptation actions take place and compare this scenario to the investment cost of some adaptation strategies being implemented. The results show that some adaptation strategies are less costly than the potential damage under inaction. In other words, it is economically rational to invest in adaptation even in a context of high uncertainty. These calculations are very relevant to inform climate change adaptation decisions and to better manage the risk posed by sea-level rise. Moreover, our findings show the importance of a good understanding of the shape of the sea-level rise and damage cost distributions to calculate the expected damage. We show that using the 50th percentile for these calculations is not adequate as it leads to a serious underestimation of expected damage and coastal risk.

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