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Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics

Document Type

Review

Abstract

Sea level rise and other effects of climate change on oceans and coasts around the world are major reasons to halt the emissions of greenhouse gases to the maximum extent. But historical emissions and sea level rise have already begun so steps to adapt to a world where shorelines, coastal populations, and economies could be dramatically altered are now essential. This presents significant economic challenges in four areas. (1) Large expenditures for adaptation steps may be required but the extent of sea level rise and thus the expenditures are unknowable at this point. Traditional methods for comparing benefits and costs are severely limited, but decisions must still be made. (2) It is not clear where the funding for adaptation will come from, which is a barrier to even starting planning. (3) The extent of economic vulnerability has been illustrated with assessments of risks to current properties, but these likely significantly understate the risks that lie in the future. (4) Market-based solutions to reducing climate change are now generally accepted, but their role in adaptation is less clear. Reviewing the literature addressing each of these points, this paper suggests specific strategies for dealing with uncertainty in assessing the economics of adaptation options, reviews the wide range of options for funding coastal adaption, identifies a number of serious deficiencies in current economic vulnerability studies, and suggests how market based approaches might be used in shaping adaptation strategies. The paper concludes by identifying a research agenda for the economics of coastal adaptation that, if completed, could significantly increase the likelihood of economically efficient coastal adaptation.