review loc Climate change risks could cost developing countries

Hong Kong, 29 October 2009: A new report says climate risks could cost nations up to 19% of their GDP by 2030, with developing countries most vulnerable. However, action on climate adaptation can significantly reduce economic losses from climate risks by between 40 and 65% with even higher levels of prevention possible in highly targeted geographies. China and India are among the test cases.

The report, titled “Shaping Climate-Resilient Development”, offers a comprehensive and replicable methodology to determine the risks that climate change imposes on economies.  It provides a set of tools for decision makers in government and the private sector to adopt a tailored approach for estimating these costs based on local climate conditions, and for building more resilient economies. The report has been produced by the Economics of Climate Adaptation Working Group, of which Swiss Re is a leading contributor.


Visiting Asia this week, David Bresch, Head of Sustainability and Emerging Risks at Swiss Re, says, “This is the first report to answer the question facing decision makers around the globe: how do we understand and plan for climate risk given so much uncertainty?” The report shows that cost effective adaptation measures can safeguard much – and in some cases most – of the value at risk, even when allowing for severe climate change impacts.


Decision makers need to look beyond climate change to a more holistic consideration of climate risks. The report determined a location’s total climate risk – calculated by combining existing climate risks, climate change and the value of future economic development – and used a cost-benefit analysis to create a list of location specific measures to adapt to the identified risk.


Overall findings showed that easily identifiable and cost effective measures – such as improved drainage, sea barriers, and improved building regulations, among many others - could reduce potential economic losses from climate change.  In fact, most could deliver economic benefits that far outweigh their costs – with adaptation measures that on average cost less than 50% of the economic loss avoided.

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